Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Darris McNeely] The Bible foretells a 1,000 year period when Jesus Christ will create on this earth a world of peace and justice without war and suffering.
The book of Revelation contains the astonishing story describing why our world contains so much that is evil and how a new age will come, not by the hand of man but by the direct intervention of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
On the prison island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, the apostle John received an astonishing vision that has fascinated and perplexed many. Is this prophecy just an old man’s meaningless dream that can never come true? Or is it the sure Word of God? Can this mysterious book really be understood? Does it hold answers for us today? You can know and the answer will give you hope.
On today’s program we will reveal the truth of “Christ’s Thousand-Year Reign on Earth.”
Are you tired of bad news? Are you frustrated with the anger, division and conflict we see around us today? There has been a lot lately. We are all disillusioned with politics and failed leadership.
In the Middle East we see a world aflame with rioting, overthrow of governments and the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of religious extremists and unstable dictators.
Our world is going through a period of volatility in creating fear and uncertainty about the future. We wonder what lies ahead for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.
People must have hope in the future. Hope that problems can be solved. Hope that life will get better. Without hope people wither in despair and often turn to destructive behavior for escape. God understands that you and I need hope every day and God has provided that hope in His revealed Word the Bible.
Beyond Today is about hope. We give understanding and help for living by God’s purpose and will. We have learned the word of God is the only sure source for lasting hope in this often chaotic world.
I want to talk to you today about a truth first put into writing a few thousand years ago. This truth promises a world of peace and prosperity for all. It is the biblical teaching of the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ on earth. It’s called the Millennium. The world millennium is a Latin word which merely means 1,000. Now when people start to speak of a millennial setting, really what they are speaking to is what the Bible describes as a time of peace and harmony on the earth. This teaching is not something invented by human imagination.
The truth of Christ’s reign on earth connects with some of the Bible’s earliest statements. It is found in virtually all the Hebrew prophets. And it continues to hold the imagination of so many in spite of attempts to undermine and to explain it away.
God’s promise of his 1000 year reign on earth stands as a symbol of hope for all mankind. A study of the sayings of the Scriptures and a review of efforts to overturn this teaching helps us to understand our world and the promised peace of the Kingdom of God.
In the book of Revelation the apostle John records that after the second coming of Jesus Christ the saints will reign with Him for 1,000 years. Here’s what it says:
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment 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 worshiped 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…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” (Revelation 20:4-6).
There you have it. This verse in Revelation provides really the capstone to a teaching that begins in the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament. It’s a summary of many other biblical descriptions and promises about the millennial age, a peaceable Kingdom.
God through His servants foretold this period time and time again. It was the hope of Israel’s prophets throughout much of their national history, especially during the nation’s decline and captivity. This same hope was shared by the apostles as they questioned Christ about the restoration of Israel’s ancient kingdom. Before His rise to heaven his disciples asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). The people eagerly expected to see the Messiah’s rule to begin at that time. They knew the promise of a restoration foretold by so many of the prophets.
The prophet Isaiah had offered a very clear picture of this future when he wrote of a time when Israel would be reunited under one Head and the knowledge of God would cover the earth. This was written during the period of Israel’s decline, but it pictures the future Millennium. Here’s what that verse says:
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. 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” (Isaiah 11:1-10).
Isaiah’s words have crystallized the idea of the Millennium. What is described here is a complete change in all parts of this world. In fact, this scene out of Isaiah is one that you will see depicted in a lot of paintings describing what is called the peaceable kingdom. A time when the nature of wild animals will be changed. A child will walk among them in safety with no fear. Even the nature of man will be changed. Think about that for a moment. The deception that has gripped the world will be turned back. The knowledge of God’s plan will spread throughout the human race. No part of the world we know today will be left unchanged. This will happen and it will only happen through the appearance of Jesus Christ.
Now in Isaiah 2, there is another long section of prophecy foretelling a time of world peace when war will not be learned nor waged. It’s worth reading in its entirety. It’s very encouraging and it gives hope. It describes the future. Here’s what it says:
“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 plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Ancient Israel never experienced this type of society. Nor has any other nation in the history of the world. Think about that for a moment. This scene that we just read out of the book of Isaiah, it provided the inspiration for the statue that stands in front of the United Nations building in New York City. Ironically, that statue was a gift from the Soviet Union back in 1959. The bronze statue represents the figure of a man holding a hammer in one hand and in the other a sword which he is making into a plowshare. It symbolizes man’s desire to put an end to war and to convert destructive weapons into creative tools for the benefit of all mankind.
This scene remains unfulfilled. No nation in history has brought it to pass. Wars and conflict continue to rain death down on towns and villages killing and disrupting the lives of many. Refugees that pour into other nations looking for safety and a place to rebuild shattered lives.
They look for hope. God has always held out the hope of a better world. In the midst of captivity we see that the prophet Daniel was given the promise of an enduring Kingdom. Let’s notice what he wrote:
“In the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).
In another vision Daniel saw the promise of a literal earth dwelling kingdom. Here is what it says:
“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed…then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (Daniel 7:13-14; Daniel 7:27).
In this prophecy given in the midst of the Babylonian captivity, God showed His people that there would be a future Kingdom on the earth under Jesus Christ. To the Jews of Daniel’s time, there was no doubt that this promise was a literal earthly kingdom. They expected the Messiah to restore the sovereign kingdom to Israel. But God intended a complete understanding of Daniel’s prophecies for a future time. The earthly appearance of this everlasting Kingdom would have to wait.
Centuries after Daniel’s day, the angel Gabriel revealed to Mary that her Son Jesus would be the head of this Kingdom. The angel said to her “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33).
During His ministry, Jesus Christ spoke clearly of His destiny to fulfill these scriptures. He showed His followers they would be among those who would reign in His Kingdom: At one point He said to His disciples, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28).
Now here is an amazing truth. You have not likely ever heard this. Christ is telling his disciples they would sit on thrones judging in the kingdom. He was telling them they were being prepared in their life for a future job and Christ is still preparing those who will reign with Him in the coming kingdom. You can have a part in that coming kingdom. You can begin to prepare now for a future role under Christ in His coming kingdom. Let’s look at further proof of what God really is doing.
The expectation of 2,000 years ago in the Holy Land was that a Messiah would overthrow the Roman rule and restore an Israelite monarchy. Many who followed Jesus Christ, including His closest disciples, believed that He was the One who would restore the Kingdom to Israel.
As Christ approached Jerusalem in the days prior to His death, He sensed that the crowds thought He would inaugurate the reign of the Messiah in their time. It says in Luke 19 that, “as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately” (Luke 19:11).
Christ spoke a parable about a nobleman who went into a far country and left his co-workers with a job to do until he returned. To each of his servants was given a talent, representing a gift or an opportunity. They were expected to use the gift and to increase its value. Upon his return he called each to give an accounting of what they had done. He gave out the rewards based on what they had increased. The point of this parable is Christ was that nobleman and when He returns the second time in glory He will establish His 1,000-year reign. We are the servants. We are given an opportunity to use the “talent” of God’s gift, His calling to life, and to prepare today in this life for a role in that coming kingdom.
This truth is little understood by so many who faithfully study the Bible and make it their guide in life. The purpose for this life, your purpose, my purpose, is to prepare to be with Christ on this earth during a 1000 year period when He will intervene in world history. Christ will end the misrule of history’s leaders. He will use a different kind of leader to create a better world. The question is can you see that that opportunity is before you now and can you take your place, now, among those who are being prepared?
Christ’s disciples, they were motivated by this key truth. This truth of the Kingdom of God, it was a focus of their teaching. It was why they were willing to give their lives in devoted service. They looked for the coming of Christ with His eternal kingdom and they prepared Christ’s followers for that coming reality. But something happened after several decades of faithful work.
Near the end of the first century this truth of God’s Kingdom on the earth came under severe attack. The integrity of Christ’s teachings were corrupted by heresy. The Roman government killed many Christians, including Christian leaders. The apostle John, he was exiled on the prison island of Patmos. A great confusion about the Kingdom of God erupted within the Church.
At the height of this crisis, John received Christ’s revelation affirming the truths of the triumphal establishment of the Kingdom of God. The knowledge of the Millennium, this 1,000-year reign, gave the Church during those years great encouragement as it always has done for those who look to God for their hope and read this truth in the Scriptures.
During that tumultuous time the teaching of the literal Kingdom of God on this earth became mixed with forms of heresy and it was discredited by many in the second, third and the fourth centuries after Christ. The concept of a literal, earthly reign of Christ on this earth came under the most severe attack.
Despite Christ’s instruction there were misguided attempts to predict the time of the return of Christ.
There were theologians who were influenced by Greek thought. They began teaching that the Kingdom was not literal, nor was it future, but only a vague spiritual kingdom subject to many wild interpretations. These false teachers said the scriptural references like what we’ve just read were only there to be understood only as a symbolism and an allegory. These prophecies, they taught, were not to be taken or to be understood literally.
In the midst of these heresies, many however still held to faith in a coming Kingdom as it had been received from the apostles from Jesus Christ. The histories show us that a scattered remnant of faithful people holding to the “faith once delivered,” these faithful disciples continued to teach the truth of Christ’s 1000 year reign on this earth.
By the fifth century AD the doctrine of the Millennium was overwhelmed by the teaching of one man, a man named Augustine. Augustine was the most influential theologian of the early church. He taught that the church was the Kingdom of God on earth. His false teaching replaced the biblical teaching that God would intervene in history establishing a Kingdom literally on this earth, a kingdom that would never end.
In Augustine’s false view the Kingdom of God was a spiritual matter merely in the hearts of men manifested in the role of the church then on the earth. This heresy then matched up with what the Roman Emperor Constantine did by adopting Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire. From this point there was then no need for a literal belief in Christ’s reign on earth. The church as then constituted had become political and it was wedded spiritually to the power of the empire.
The removal of this central teaching of Christ and His Church had profound impact. What historian Edward Gibbon called “the ancient and popular doctrine” now became a teaching with little use or support. Edward Gibbon, the famous 18th century historian, writes this: “But when the edifice of the church was almost completed, the temporary support was laid aside. The doctrine of Christ’s reign upon earth was at first treated as a profound allegory, was considered…as a doubtful and useless opinion, and was…rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism” ( Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Great Books edition, 1952, p. 188).
Now let’s pause and let me ask you something. What was the result of this loss of this critical biblical teaching, the loss of this knowledge from God’s Word? What did this really mean to lose to the religious world the truth of the literal reign of Jesus Christ on this earth? It was a big loss and it meant everything.
It meant that for the dominant religion at that time the church was considered the Kingdom of God, acting and working with the authority of Christ. It meant that any political power that it joined with, would wield immense influence over the hearts and the minds of men. It meant a spiritual and political tyranny that was not of God. It was a false heretical teaching.
The western world of Europe was plunged into a period that history calls the Dark Ages. It was as if the lights went out on learning and the advancement of culture on all fronts. Historian William Manchester describes the period as a “portrait…of incessant warfare, corruption, lawlessness, obsession with strange myths, and an almost impenetrable mindlessness” (A World Lit Only by Fire,1992, p. 3).
To be blunt, whenever humans have tried to create the biblical Millennium on the earth in their way by politics, and by their own form of religion or philosophy it has always failed and it will always fail. Political, social and religious history proves this point to be painfully true.
The truth of God’s Kingdom to come on this earth is either true or not. Your Bible says it is true and God says He will replace the kingdoms of this world with the Kingdom of His Christ. You need to believe this truth for it is the only hope for human survival.
And if this is true, then both the Bible and history prove the only way this Kingdom of peace prophesied in the Bible will come will be by the direct hand of God, as He intervenes in history and saves all mankind from extinction. No project of man, nothing man does by himself, will bring about a utopian society. Nothing.
We are at a turning point today in modern history. Major changes will soon shape this present world into something far different than we presently see. Many will think that there will be peace, that some human government will finally get it right. People will put their trust in leaders who will make promises of peace and security. But they will be wrong and the world at that time will take one more turn to a crisis at the close of the age.
It is vital that you understand Christ’s message of the coming Kingdom of God today. To summarize:
1. Jesus Christ is going to return to our earth to setup His Father’s Kingdom. The Bible calls it the Kingdom of God.
2. Christ will reign here on earth for one thousand years, from Jerusalem.
3. If called and faithful, YOU can have a role in that Kingdom serving Jesus Christ as He brings peace to the whole world.
In the course of today’s program you may have been aware, perhaps for the first time, that there is genuine hope for humanity beyond today’s bad news. Indeed, the coming age of peace and prosperity is no pipe dream. It’s as real as the rising of tomorrow’s sun. Jesus Christ promised to return to earth and install a world-ruling government under His perfect leadership. That will last for a thousand years.
You really need to know much more about what is promised in the Bible and you can do so by ordering your free copy of our Bible study aid: “Christ’s Reign on Earth: What It Will Be Like.” This important study will help you grasp not only how Christ will clean up the corruption of human earthly rule but completely replace it with a new and perfect government. Plus, you will learn about remarkable changes that will help transform humans from selfish, self-destructive beings into caring, joyful citizens.
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The Bible reveals that a world of peace will result from the return of Jesus Christ. Nations will seek the way of God. Fear will be banished from among the peoples of the earth as godly righteousness guides international relations.
Endless conflicts will disappear, and the art of war will be lost. Families will grow stronger with each generation. When God’s Kingdom arrives, there will be nothing to deny its long-held promise and hope of bringing peace on earth.
As we’ve seen, the teaching of the Millennium begins early in Scripture and continues through the book of Revelation. Christ’s last words on the subject are perhaps the clearest and plainest in the Bible. Jesus Christ, the true author of the book of Revelation, says there will be a period of 1,000 years during which the resurrected saints will reign with Him in a just and benevolent Kingdom on this earth.
Will you take Christ at His Word? Will you believe what He said?
The millennial rule of Christ, an idea older than time, will endure and ultimately transform the world. May we all continue to pray, “Your Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today , I’m Darris McNeely.
[Narrator] For the free literature offered on today’s program go online to beyondtoday.tv.