What is the Meaning of the Millennium?
1,000 Years of God’s Rule
Since God is wise and omniscient, he does not accomplish acts without reason. God has several purposes to fulfill by ushering in a thousand years of peace in the world. This period of time gives God the opportunity to reward the saints of all time. The reign will come in answer to the prayer “Thy kingdom come.”
God will redeem creation and rebuild the temple of David. He will finish what was previously begun. God will fulfill three important Old Testament covenants during the rule on earth (the Abrahamic, the Davidic, and the New Covenant). The millennium will also serve to complete the ministry of Christ.
The doctrine of rewards is one of the chief motivational doctrines in Scripture. Isaiah-taught concerning rewards, “Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him” (Isa. 40:10). Jesus said, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matt. 16:27).
The apostle Paul looked forward to his “crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). The giving of promised rewards is one of the purposes of Christ’s reign on earth.
God will keep his promise to hear and answer prayer. When his disciples wanted to know how to pray, Jesus provided a model which has become known as “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4). When Christians pray, “Thy kingdom come,” they are expressing a twofold desire. First, they seek the rule of God in their lives and in the world today.
That is why we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” A second desire expressed is for the actual, literal reign of Christ on the earth. God will answer both requests in the millennium. As we yield ourselves to him, he will lead and rule in our lives. When Jesus returns to establish his kingdom, he will have answered the second desire, for we will rule and reign with him.
God created a harmonious and perfect world which was described as “very good” (Gen. 1:31). With the entrance of sin into the world, that creation was placed under the bondage of sin. At the return of Christ to establish his kingdom, the natural world will be delivered from that bondage.
Peter described this time as “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). The curse will be lifted. Thorns and thistles that make work torturous will disappear. The earth will yield its strength and man will enjoy the fruit and beauty of nature.
Rebuilding of the Temple
One of the things done in the millennium will be the rebuilding of the temple. The Old Testament prophets wrote, “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up” (Acts 15:16). Several chapters in Ezekiel deal specifically with the rebuilding of the millennial temple and the conducting of memorial sacrifices (Ezek. 40-48).
The Lord is a covenant God and has on several occasions made covenants with Israel. Three important covenants will be fulfilled in the millennium. The Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3) promised that Israel would be a great nation and possess the Promised Land. The Davidic Covenant (2 Chron. 13:5; 2 Sam. 7:12-16) promised the seed of David (Christ) would rule forever on the throne of David. The New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) promised a spiritual rebirth for the nation Israel. These things will be accomplished in the thousand-year reign of Christ. If a person denies the existence of the millennium, he attempts to tie the hands of God behind his back so he cannot keep his promises.
Ministry of Christ
Peter described the full ministry of Christ in terms of “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Pet. 1:11). Much of the earthly ministry of Christ would be included in the first part of that description, but his glory will be revealed in the millennium.