The Millennial Reign
Dustin L. Abbott
The battle has now been won, and Jesus Christ has taken possession of His kingdom; He will now reward His Bride for her faithfulness to Him. One of the greatest rewards will be the absence of Satan and His influence in the world. Our responsibility of ruling and reigning with Him will be made much easier without satanic influence in the world (it is a reward, not a curse!). One thousand literal years of Eden-like peace will reign upon the earth. This period will conclude with the short release of Satan and the final battle of Gog and Magog. This will end time as we know it and usher in eternity.
(1) And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
The first step to the founding of Jesus’ earthly kingdom is the removal of Satan. This angel is not given a name; anyone who comes in the name of the Lord has authority over the dragon! Perhaps this is a great angel, like Michael, or perhaps it is the feeblest of all the angels. Regardless of his identity, he carries the authority to bind Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit, effectively locking him there for the duration of the Millennium.
The conclusion of this chapter shows that Satan will be cast into the lake of fire at the end of the Kingdom Age (where the Antichrist and false prophet are already in torment). At this juncture, however, he is thrown into the bottomless pit, not the lake of fire. There is an important distinction made between these two destinations. No one will ever return from the lake of fire, for it is the permanent resting place of the damned.
(2) And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
This nameless angel manhandles Satan and binds him. The captivity of Satan will be for a specified period that is repeated no less than six times in this chapter. Verses 2-7 emphasize the fact that the Millennial Reign will last for 1,000 literal years! If John had been writing figuratively there would be no need to repeat this multiple times. John makes it abundantly clear just who is being bound in this passage. Four distinct names used to refer to Satan are all listed to remove all doubts and make it clear that the devil is going to get “his due.”
Satan will be utterly humiliated by this event! He will be bound by a nameless angel in the sight of millions of witnesses. He will be weak and powerless, and Isaiah records our reaction to seeing him in this state.
But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a desert and overthrew its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?’ (Isaiah 14:15-17, ESV).
Is this what we have feared? Is this the one that intimidated the world? When compared to the might of God carried out by a single angel we will realize that there is no contest between God and Satan. How can creation challenge the Creator?
(3) And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
A joyous celebration must take place as the redeemed Bride watches the binding of their archenemy. God makes a mockery of him. Men will wonder at how such a creature could ever deceive so many. The seal of God is placed upon the locked bottomless pit, the same kind of seal that protected the 144,000. It cannot be broken; once placed, only God Himself can rescind it.
For the space of 1,000 years, there will be no temptation. There will be no “other side.” It will not be a choice between God and Satan, between good and evil, between right and wrong. The only option during the Millennial Reign will be to serve the Lord. As time begins to progress and the hundreds of years begin to pass, many will forget that there ever existed another option. Children will be born that have never known the darkness and oppression of sin and temptation.
This ushers in an Eden-like state of perfection. Government will take the form of a true Theocracy, with Jesus as the head of state. His Bride will assume the various positions of authority under Him. Harmony will reign across the earth, even affecting the animals. Prior to the flood all animals were herbivores. There was no such thing as predator and prey, competition, or even a food chain. Even humans did not eat animals, but only killed them for either sacrifice or clothing according to the example established by God. As a result, all species upon the earth lived in harmony. In fact, it was not until after the flood that fear of man and one another was placed upon animals (Genesis 9). At that point man began to eat animals; animals began to eat each other and, on occasion, humans. The earth became a competitive place with “the survival of the fittest” as earth’s motto. But prior to the flood this competition did not exist. That state of peace will return once again during the Millennial Reign. Predator and prey will be at peace, and even the mighty lion will eat grass like an ox (Isaiah 11:6-8; 65:25).
The end result will be a rapid repopulation of the earth. There will not be sickness or death, and the inhabitants of the earth will continue to have children (they will still be in mortal bodies and will continue to have marital relations) (Isaiah 65:20; Zechariah 8:4). Childbirth will become a painless joy once again, adding incentive to bearing children. Just how many billion people will exist upon the earth by the conclusion of the millennial reign is difficult to predict, but it is possible that the earth will see its largest population ever during this time. There will be plenty of people for the Lamb’s Bride to rule and reign over (Isaiah 33:24; 35:5-6).
Most of our theology regarding the Kingdom Age does not come from the Book of Revelation but rather from OT prophets. The greatest enlightenment comes from Isaiah 11, which is devoted in its entirety to this subject. The throne of David will be reestablished, and he will rule from Jerusalem with the spirit of God resting upon him. The spirit of God will give him unprecedented wisdom and justness with which to reign (Isaiah 11:1-5). The NT does add that the twelve disciples will serve under him as regents or heads of the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). Predator and prey will lie down and eat together, and carnivores will become herbivores once again. No animal will harm a human being, but there will rather be a complete harmony within all of God’s creation (Isaiah 11:6-9). There will be a universal knowledge and acknowledgment of God (Isaiah 11:10). There will be a remnant of people that will survive the Tribulation from most nations of the world (Isaiah 11:11-12). God will gather together the Jews from all parts of the world and will place all of them in the Promised Land (Isaiah 11:12). There will be a complete peace for Israel (including internal peace) (Isaiah 11:13). The King’s Highway will be reestablished, providing a major thoroughfare in and out of Jerusalem (Isaiah 11:16).
Zechariah 14 adds more insight into this period of time. It starts by adding an interesting fact to the battle of Armageddon: at the second coming of Christ He will place His feet upon the Mount of Olives, which will literally split east and west. This will create a great valley that the Jews will flee to until He has gained victory for them (Zechariah 14:1-5). It also sheds some light on the healing of earth after Armageddon and the Tribulation. Healing, living waters will flow out from Jerusalem that will bring healing to the land (Zechariah 14:8). One of the specifics of this prophecy is that the Dead Sea will be healed and will team with fish. It reveals that Jesus will be the king of the whole earth, and that everyone will acknowledge that there is only one God and His name is one (Zechariah 14:9). There will be an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem by everyone in the world; they will come to worship and to keep the feast of tabernacles. Anyone who does not keep this command will be punished both by receiving no rain as well as God “smiting” them (Zechariah 14:16-19). It further establishes that Jerusalem will be the capitol of the world. The prophet Zephaniah adds that the curse of Babel will be overthrown and that everyone will speak a universal “pure” language, a language that draws people together in harmony, worship, and praise. This will literally be the language of praise (Zephaniah 3:9).
Isaiah 35 explains how the world will be healed and will blossom. There will be no barren place upon the earth, but the desert will blossom like a rose and the barren, parched earth will turn into pools and springs of water (Isaiah 35:1-7). The curse upon the earth will be lifted and the earth will yield like no time since Eden. People will live simple and fulfilling agricultural lives where the earth yields for each according to their needs. The stress of fast-paced modern live will be alleviated. Rather than thorn bushes or cacti, graceful ferns and flowering myrtles will grow (Zechariah 8:12; Isaiah 55:13). Blind eyes will be opened and deaf ears unstopped, which would indicate that not only will sickness and disease be abolished, but preexisting conditions will also be healed (Isaiah 35:5). The King’s Highway will be named the Highway or Way of Holiness, and the redeemed will travel it (Isaiah 35:9-10).
This brings us to the final point of discussion from this verse. Why is Satan released for a season at the conclusion of this period of time? Why would God destroy this perfection? The simple answer is this: God is just. There have been multiplied millions born during this time that have never had to face temptation. God is just in every generation and will ensure that all have to face temptation. James wrote that “every man is tempted’ (James 1:14). Man has been created with the power of choice, the will to choose between good and evil. Those born during the Millennium would be less than human if they were not given the opportunity to exercise that power of choice.
(4) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
John sees first in this verse thrones that are occupied with people having the power of judgment. These are the saints of God, the Bride of Christ, who have assumed their reward in ruling, reigning, and judging the world. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that the saints would literally “judge the world’ (1 Corinthians 6:2). The reward of the church is literal, and John sees the evidence that confirms this.
When the United Nations was founded on October 24, 1945, it was hoped that this organization would be an international governing body that would create peace. It was a desperate attempt at peace that came on the heels of two great world wars. The U.N. building in New York City even bears this Millennial prophetical verse, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4). The problem lies in the fact that the first half of this verse was left off the quotation. It states, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people.” It is impossible to have the peace the world desires without having the Prince of Peace as the ruler of the world!
This verse also reveals the distinction between the Church and the tribulation saints. John first sees the Church on their thrones, then afterward sees the martyred tribulation saints, now resurrected and redeemed, serving with the Lord. Their position will not be as exalted as those that were a part of the catching away or the 144,000, but they will be given positions of honor serving in the temple of the Lord (Revelation 7:15). This verse shows that they have not remained in their position of death as disembodied souls under the altar (Revelation 6:9) but have been resurrected with eternal bodies. Furthermore, they have been found worthy to rule and reign with him. This starkly contrasts with the following verse, which describes the unrighteous.
(5) But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
There have been many that have been misled and confused by this verse. This verse does not state that the catching away takes place here, but rather that the first resurrection is completed. The second resurrection will be a resurrection of the ungodly to judgment, the resurrection of the damned. The completion of the first resurrection indicates that never again will godly people be resurrected from the dead. Beginning with Christ and ending with the tribulation saints, the entire first resurrection is now complete.
The remainder of the dead are the ungodly, and they will not live until they are resurrected to stand before the great white throne of judgment at the conclusion of this era. All those that are raised as a part of the second resurrection are already damned even before they stand before the throne of judgment.
(6) Blessed and holy is he that bath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
This verse clearly states that all that are a part of the first resurrection will enter into the New Jerusalem. The second death, or eternity in the lake of fire, has no power or influence over those that are a part of this resurrection (Revelation 21:8). All that are a part of this resurrection will have some position of honor during the millennium. This further proves that the population of the earth will be extraordinarily great during this era, for there will be multiplied millions of people who will serve in the heavenly kingdom upon earth. There must be a great earthly population for us to rule and reign over.
The role that the redeemed will play during the Kingdom Age is best typified by the OT theophany Melchizedek. Revelation 5:10 states that we will reign as “kings and priests” with Him. This is often viewed as two separate positions; some will serve as kings and others as priests. A greater revelation comes from understanding the priesthood of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a theophany, a human manifestation of God, during the era of Abraham. Melchizedek served in two roles: he was the king of Salem, or Jerusalem, and also a priest of “the most high God.” His priesthood was an eternal priesthood that both predated the Aaronic (Levitical) priesthood and was superior to it (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:17-21). Both David and Jesus were priests after the order of Melchizedek, even though they were not from the tribe of Levi. This superior priesthood was not limited to spiritual leadership but also included the role of being a king and providing civil leadership. Melchizedek, David, and Jesus served as spiritual leaders and civil leaders, kings and priests of a higher, heavenly order. This is the role that the redeemed will play during the Millennial Reign.
(7) And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
At the conclusion of this glorious era, Satan will be loosed for a season. He will have an opportunity to do His dirty work one last time. It is a startling fact that despite this age of perfection there will be people that are discontent and long for “freedom.” A desire for sin and rebellion doesn’t entirely disappear, even in Utopia. Once again Satan is unwittingly doing the divine work of God, for through him the Lord is trying the hearts of the inhabitants of the earth and giving them the opportunity to choose evil. There must be a final division. The inhabitants of the earth have all been taught righteousness, but before the final judgment they must be given a choice: do they choose that righteousness of their own free will, or do they choose the temptation of sin and unrighteousness? In this fashion the “sheep” will be divided from the “goats.”
(8) And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
Many will be deceived, and once again a great army will be formed to try and defy the Almighty. Satan’s original lust for power is his continual besetting sin, and his same pattern is repeated here. This will be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back, and this attempt will result in his doom.
There is a lengthy discussion of a battle of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38 and 39. This is not the same battle that is described in this chapter. The battle in Ezekiel speaks of the fowls coming to eat the bodies of the dead, seven months required to bury the bones, that men will be given the full-time job of seeking out the dead, and also states that the inhabitants of Israel will burn the weapons of this great army for fuel over the space of seven years. This picture that is painted in these passages better represents Armageddon than this last battle. There will be no seven years or seven months following the final battle, but rather this will directly usher in the judgment and eternity.
After lengthy study, I would conclude that the identity of Gog or Magog is unimportant. It is not a specific country, as opposed to what has often been taught, for this verse states that this army will be gathered from the four quarters of the earth. Gog in Hebrew and Greek means simply a mountain, while also giving the sense that Gog is the king or leader of the entity of Magog. Magog represents the army that Gog directs. The Jewish Rabbinical writings simply describe Gog as the enemy of the Messiah, and Magog is simply the “army of Gog.” This will be a vast force that is gathered from every corner of the earth and every nationality, and the ultimate leader will be Satan.
(9) And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
This massive army marches with a great show of force and eventually surrounds Jerusalem. Never is there any indication of trepidation on the part of the righteous, for they are beyond intimidation by the enemy; their hope is in their protector. Their trust is well placed, for there is never a shot fired or a sword that clashes; fire comes down from heaven and obliterates every trace of them. God does not even give them the dignity of a battle. They have had their opportunity for glory, but He has lost his patience for this pattern of foolishness. They have had every opportunity to choose right during a thousand years of perfection, and they have made their choice. They deserve no better.
(10) And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Again God reacts swiftly against the commander of the force, grabbing Satan and casting him into the same place that the generals of the last battle went to. The Antichrist and the false prophet have been waiting for Satan in torment. From (this moment on the unholy trinity of Satan, the Antichrist, and false prophet will burn with everlasting torment. For every moment that Satan has tormented, he will be tormented a billion years and more. The depth and greatness of this torment is impossible to imagine or sum up in words. Let it suffice to say that it is to be avoided at all cost.
(11) And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
Our Savior takes His place upon the great white throne of judgment, but at this moment He is unrecognizable as the gentle savior. He is now the embodiment of holy perfection, the righteous judge. The austerity of His face causes even heaven and earth to cringe in horror. There will be no jokers or mockers in this court room. Everyone that appears before Him will be shaken to their core with fear. No one will underestimate the severity of this moment. Jesus will be the one that sits upon that throne as the judge, for He has literally walked a mile in our shoes. He was tempted in every way, He felt pain and abandonment, and even felt what it was really like to be forsaken by God (something few others have experienced). In His hands, feet, and side He bears the marks that prove everyone had a chance to be saved. The absurd fact is that He actually paid the penalty for the sins of the unrighteous that will stand before Him on this day; their sins will actually be twice paid for! Those that stand before Him have blatantly disregarded His sacrifice and chose through their sinful actions to bear the penalty for their sins themselves.
(12) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
The second resurrection takes place, and every soul of the unrighteous dead makes their appearance. They also are given an incorruptible, indestructible body. For them, it is a curse rather than a blessing. The human body is blessed with limits to its endurance, and even death is a sweet reward for some. The human can only endure pain for a certain time before it fades into oblivion. There will be no threshold of pain, no point of relief in this new body. The nerves will continually scream with pain without relief for eternity.
The second resurrection is summoned to the great throne, with the books of judgment opened before them. There are several things that men are judged by. First and foremost is the Word of God (John 12:48). Everyone is judged according to their level of obedience to it. People are also judged by their words (Matthew 12:36-37), thoughts (Romans 2:15-16), and works (Revelation 20:12), which are all recorded. Only baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16) and repentance (II Corinthians 7:10) can erase that record. The final measure is the gospel and people’s response to the finished work of Calvary (Mark 16:15-16; II Thessalonians 1:8-9; 2:9-12). The marks of crucifixion upon Jesus will be continual reminders to the accused that they could have avoided this day. The Book of Life will also be opened, a book that lists the names of all those found worthy. People are not judged according to the Book of Life, for it sets no standard. It is simply the final proof that they have not been found worthy according to the other standards. Those that stand in this line will not find their name within this book.
(13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
No one will escape this moment. People have spread their ashes around the world or even had them taken to space in an attempt to escape this moment. It will all be in vain. The sea will give up its dead, the grave will deliver, death will deliver, and hell will deliver. Every man will be judged. If they are not judged in the banquet of rewards, or later pass the test of the final temptation by Satan, they will be judged at the great white throne. Again John emphasizes that all will be judged according to their works. We must never underestimate the need of the godly works that should result from the grace that we have been given.
The final separation on this day is between the dead and the living. All those that are living (either with earthly bodies or immortal bodies) will not stand before the Great White Throne judgment. The immortal are a part of the first resurrection and have already been judged righteous at the banquet of rewards (Marriage Supper of the Lamb). The mortal living at the end of the Tribulation will be deemed righteous because they resisted the final temptation by Satan and thus have chosen God. They will not die natural deaths during the Kingdom Age, and that battle will be the sole opportunity for death during this time. Those that failed to pass that test have all been killed in the battle of Gog and Magog. No unrighteous will be left alive on earth. All those that are resurrected for this judgment are unrighteous, and all of them are resurrected for eternal damnation.
(14) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
The previous resting place of the dead, hell (Hades), was cast into the lake of fire along with the unrighteous dead that previously inhabited it. This definitively shows that hell is distinct from the lake of fire. In the final analysis there is only two choices for eternity: the New Jerusalem or the lake of fire. There is no other choice. Is it any wonder that John calls those that escape this place blessed?
The implication of this verse is not only that the resting place of the damned will be absorbed into the lake of fire, but also that the contents of death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire. This verse shows that the inhabitants of death and hell (the dead at this point) will only be resurrected to be judged and enter eternal damnation. They have left the first death only for a quick trip to the second death.
(15) And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
There will be no valid argument or excuse. There will be no mistakes or exceptions, no high power lawyer to claim mitigating circumstances or temporary insanity. Just the facts and they will be very, very damning. There will be some that attempt to say, “Lord, Lord, we did this or that in your name” and will try to claim that they do not deserve to be here. But the dividing line is a true relationship with God (including obedience to the full truth), not just professing Him with the mouth (Matthew 7:21-23). Either one’s name is there or it is not! Eternity will be simply that…eternal. Without end. Without limit. Joy and happiness without end or limit for the righteous, but for the ungodly it will mean pain and suffering without end or limit.
This article “The Millennial Reign” was excerpted from the book Revelation Unveiled by Dustin L. Abbott. It may be used for study & research purposes only.