PART FOUR: Understanding the Millennium and its Principles
The last dispensation will be a thousand-year period of time known as the millennium. God has designated this time as when He will fulfill His promises to Israel and their forefathers, and bring physical blessings upon the earth. After the gathering and the removal of the church is complete, God will once again acknowledge the earthly calling of the Jews as His chosen people. Millennial principles will be characterized by a return to Judaism and Jewish things. All the failures of the Jewish dispensation will be made good by the grace and power of God in and through Jesus Christ.
Chapter Seventeen – The Millennium – the Dispensation of the Fullness of the Times
The millennium will replace the Christian dispensation as to God’s ways and dealings with man on the earth. It will be a time when Jesus Christ is physically present in this world. He will have returned as Messiah, Son of David, King of Israel, associated with the Jewish people and the throne of David. In a broader scene, He returns as the glorified Son of Man, as King of kings and Lord of lords over the Gentile nations, even over all of God’s creation.201 Satan will be bound in a bottomless pit for the thousand years (Rev. 20:1–3). Israel will be restored in the promised land to its full extent (Ez. 36:22–38, Jer. 31:1–14, 27, 31–40, 33:6–26). The Jews will physically prosper there, becoming the greatest nation in the millennial earth. The Gentile nations will serve them and be blessed through them (Isa. 60:11–14, 61:3–9, 62:1–5).
201 [Two different titles – Messiah and Son of Man. The first referring to David and Abraham (Matt. 1:1), the second referring to Adam (Luke 3:38, Rom. 5:14, I Cor. 15:45–47). In this sense two different thrones, each having a distinctly different reach and scope, yet simultaneously fulfilled in the time of this final thousand-year dispensation.]
Although the Old Testament has a plethora of prophetic passages providing details concerning the future millennium, because of the character of Bible prophecy, the majority of these passages limit themselves to the restoration of Israel in their land and the judgment of the world. As a Bible topic, prophecy concentrates on Israel, the earth, and God’s government of the world. Granted, the restoration of the Jews is a prominent feature of this future dispensation. As we mentioned earlier, certain men in the past saw in Scripture Israel’s restoration, which insight became the impetus for developing and organizing the understandings of the dispensational system. Still, this earthly restoration of Israel does not give the full picture of what the time of the millennium represents in the eternal counsels of God. For this we are better served by considering a passage of Scripture found in the epistle to the Ephesians.
“That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.” (Eph. 1:10)
After first laying the foundation of the sovereign grace of God in the redemption of the believer (Eph. 1:3–8), the Spirit reveals to us the mystery of God’s will in respect of His eternal counsels (Eph. 1:9–12).202 This mystery will find its complete fulfillment in the last dispensation of time. Although there will be many details to comprehend, the tenth verse is sufficient in giving us a wide picture of God’s purpose. The dispensation of the fullness of the times will be the future millennium. It will be the final dispensation, when the counting of time finishes its course and only eternity remains. God’s purpose for this time is clear. He will gather together all creation (all things) under the headship of Jesus Christ. He will have both heavenly and earthly glory, and this to the glory of God.
202 [The mystery of God’s will, as revealed by the Spirit through Paul, was actually twofold: first, the supremacy of Christ over the entire universe of God (Eph. 1:9–10); second, the church as the body of this glorified Man (Eph. 3:1–11, 1:17–23, 2:11–22). This mystery was not revealed in the Old Testament, but had to wait until Jesus was raised from the dead and glorified, allowing the Holy Spirit to be sent down (John 7:39, 16:7). It was part of the Spirit’s job to now reveal this mystery to the apostles and prophets of the church (Eph. 3:3–5)]
The nation of Israel was given God’s earthly calling. They are destined to be brought back into the land and to physically prosper there during this last dispensation. This is clearly portrayed in Old Testament prophecy. God will give the land to the Jews as an inheritance, and this will separate them from the Gentile nations (Deut. 4:37–40, Ps. 10:16, 105:7–11, Jer. 3:18, Ez. 37:14, 47:14). By this God will fulfill His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the forefathers of Israel. The Jews will have a new millennial temple and they will practice the law and Judaism (Ez. 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46). Jerusalem will be the capital city of God’s government of the world; the city of the great King (Ps. 48:1–2, Jer. 33:14–18, Matt. 5:35). Israel will be the most prominent and blessed nation during the millennium, and their land will be the center of the earth. This restoration of Israel will be the center point of the earthly glory of Jesus Christ.
After He returns, the glorified Son of Man will sit on His throne of glory and judge the nations (Matt. 25:31–33). He will clear out from His kingdom all things that offend (Matt. 13:40–42). This is God’s judgment of the living. For many it will mean being cast into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41, 13:41–42, 49–50).
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. (1 Cor. 15:24–25)
For the remainder of the millennium, Jesus will rule all nations with a rod of iron (Ps. 2:7 –9, Rev. 12:5, Isa. 11:3–5). God says to Him,
“Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
The government of God over the earth will be established in justice and righteousness through this glorified Man (Jer. 23:5–8). He must reign during the millennium until God has put all enemies under His feet (Ps. 8:6, 1 Cor. 15:25–27). This is one of the main themes of the Psalms, prophetically pointing to the future millennium (Ps. 9:4–5, 7–8, 72:1–14, 82:8, 94:14–15, 96:7–13, 97:1–6, 98:2–9, 99:1–4).
In many ways the millennium will be the making good all the failures of the previous Jewish dispensation.203 This last dispensation will be very similar to the first, except that the millennium will be sustained by the power and sovereign grace of God. He will make a new covenant with the remnant of the Jews, bringing the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel back together again (Jer. 31:31–34). He will forgive their sins and He will write His law in their minds and hearts so they will do it. By this the remnant will be blessed immeasurably (Deut. 28:1–14), and will grow in number and possessions to become the greatest nation in the millennial earth. Jehovah will be their God, and Israel will be His people. 204
203 [ Bible dispensations are about how God brings blessings to man on the earth. This principle is depicted for us by the olive tree analogy of Romans 11:11–33. This chapter clearly portrays the three dispensations: 1) The Jewish dispensation when the Jews were the only branches in the olive tree of blessing – the natural and original branches. 2) The Christian dispensation when the natural branches were cut off, and the Gentiles, as wild branches, were grafted in and became partakers of the root and fatness of the olive tree. 3) The millennium, when the Jews will be grafted back in to their own tree of earthly blessing as the natural branches, and so all Israel will be saved (as a nation). Our point is that the millennium will be similar to the previous Jewish dispensation, as the natural branches are grafted back into their own tree of earthly blessing]
204 [This phrase, “They shall be My people, and I will be their God,” or something similar to it, is found in prophetic passages that refer to Israel’s restoration in the land during the future millennium (Jer. 30:18–22, 31:31–34, 32:37–41, 24:5–7, Ez. 11:17–20, 14:11, 34:11–31, 36:20–38, 37:21–28, 39:21–29). The exception is when Israel first became a nation under Moses (Ex. 6:7, Jer. 11:1–5). It is the language by which God acknowledges or recognizes the calling of the Jews as His chosen people. When Israel is set aside by God, then He no longer recognizes them as His people, and the phrase changes to, “Call his name LO-Ammi, for you are not My people, And I will not be your God.” (Hosea 1:9). God either acknowledges Israel corporately as a nation, or He doesn’t. It is obvious that during the Christian dispensation He doesn’t. But during the future tribulation God will choose and seal a remnant of the Jews and call them His elect (Matt. 24:22, 24, 31, Isa. 65:8–10). And certainly, during the millennium which follows, those of Israel He brings back into the land are the ones He acknowledges as His people.]
The millennial dispensation will be when God takes back possession of the world. It will be the time when the Most High God is shown to be “Possessor of heaven and earth” (Gen 14:19, 22, Rev. 14:7–8). During the first two dispensations, Satan was free and at liberty, roaming the earth, but also having access to the heavens. At the very least, during the Christian dispensation the devil holds the title of god and prince of this world (2 Cor. 4:4, Eph. 2:2). But with the return of Christ to the earth, the devil will be bound in a bottomless pit for a thousand years (Rev. 20:3). God’s government over the world will be re-established through the physical presence of Jesus Christ. The millennium represents the last rule and kingdom under man – under the perfect and obedient Man, the glorified Son of Man.205 It will be the time when the glory of God fills the earth (Ps. 72:17–19, Hab. 2:14).
205 [ The passage quoted above, I Cor. 15:24–25, has the understanding that Jesus must reign as a Man until He puts all enemies under His feet; and that at the end of the millennium, as a Man, He delivers the kingdom to God, having accomplished the task of bringing to an end all rule, authority, and power of man on the earth. This entire chapter emphasizes what this heavenly Man accomplished by coming down to the earth as the second Adam, dying, and being raised and glorified, and in consequence, what He will accomplish in the future as the result. But just as important, the chapter identifies and associates the Christian believer/church, through the power of God in redemption, with everything Jesus has done and will do as this heavenly Man]
During the millennium the government of God over the earth will again be centered in the nation of Israel. Jerusalem will be the capital of the world. The Jews will again practice the law and Judaism, only instead of it written on tablets of stone, it will be written in their minds and hearts (Jer. 31:31–34). God’s law is the basis of His government. As a result of Israel’s obedience to walk in His statutes and ordinances during the millennium (Ez. 11:17–20, 36:23–28, 37:21–28), God’s blessing of Israel will overflow to the world. This will be the fulfilling of His promise to Abraham that, “…in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3). Yes, through Abraham’s physical descendants the world will be blessed.
Israel is part of the world. Therefore, God’s dealings with the Jews have always been as a nation. This was true in the Jewish dispensation, and it will be true in the millennium. Israel’s redemption brought them, as a nation, out of Egypt and into the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the Jewish dispensation this failed because Israel’s corporate responsibility was being tested. But during the future tribulation, God will seal and preserve an elect remnant of the Jews (Rev. 7:1–8). At the beginning of the millennium, He will bring them back into the land (Isa. 65:8–10, Matt. 24:31). From this remnant, it seems to me, God will grow the nation of Israel (Jer. 32:37–41, Ez. 36:8–11, 35–38). This nationalism is characteristic of God’s first creation and man in Adam. The division of the world into different nations and languages was the result of mankind’s arrogance and sin at Babel (Gen. 10:32). The millennium will still have the world divided into nations. Only now, with the restoration and exaltation of the Jews, it will fulfill what was always God’s counsels concerning the world – its division centers on Israel (Deut. 32:8–9).
These earthly principles apply to the future tribulation and millennium. They can be described as the time when God judges and corrects the world, for its eventual blessing. Because Israel has always been dealt with by God as a nation, and the Jews are always viewed as part of the world, God must first judge and correct them, in order to accomplish the divine work of having the millennial world centered around them.
But earthly principles do not apply to the Christian believer/church, the heavenly people and heavenly calling of God. And these earthly events, descriptive of the tribulation and millennium, have no direct application to the believer/church. The Christian is not part of the world (John 17:14, 16). God can judge the world only after He has removed the saints from the earth. The body of Christ will not be present on the earth when God turns to judge the world. (The millennial place of the believer/church is above in the heavens, and will be discussed in a later chapter)