“I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men.”
– Henry David Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience”
Thoreau here described the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. He just didn’t know it. The millennial reign is not left to the imagination. It is real truth in a real future. We cannot ignore this vital Christian doctrine. In this future state, “the souls of those beheaded for their witness to Jesus and the word of God” will “live and reign with Christ for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4). With Satan chained in a bottomless pit, the saints will be “priests of God and of Christ” (20:1-3, 6). True justice and true peace will be the daily norm.
The phrase “1,000 years” is mentioned six times in Revelation 20:1-7, for a reason. “One day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). We must take this verse literally. Just like God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, so world history will take place in six thousand years and an eternal rest will occur in the seventh – the millennium. In biblical numerology, six is the number of man, seven that of God (perfection).
We’re very near the end of the six thousand years of world history. When that blessed end comes – first in the rapture of the church on earth and the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven, then in the second coming of Jesus Christ (when heaven meets earth) – the millennial reign will follow. It will be a thousand years of justice, peace, and righteousness.
What will the saints do during the millennium, other than be priests of Christ and reign with him? How will they “live”? I don’t know. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb … and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). “The child shall die one hundred years old … and dust shall be the serpent’s food” (65:20, 25). Do these verses describe the millennium or the new heaven and new earth, with the New Jerusalem in the center? I don’t know. Who will fill the nations that Satan will deceive after the thousand years are over (Revelation 20:7)? Will babies be born in the millennial reign, or will the dead not in Christ rise to be deceived again? I don’t know.
What I do know is this: the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) and the new heaven and new earth (21-22) will not occur until after the millennium. In the New Jerusalem, “the nations of those who are saved will walk in the light” of the Lamb; “the kings of the earth [will] bring their glory and honor into it” (21:24). Finally, the servants of Christ will serve and reign with him (22:3-5). What is the kings’ “glory and honor”? Again, I don’t know.
Subconsciously, people want the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. They just don’t know it. In the meantime, they spin their wheels in the mud of this world – looking for justice, peace, and truth but finding none. Sometimes they try to manufacture these ideals and cause chaos in the process.
Is God slow? No. But too many people try to outrun him. Others don’t believe in or look forward to the millennial reign. Global environmental efforts in these final days are abundant evidence of that unfortunate truth. Thanks to the lie of evolution, many people think the world has been around forever (billions, not thousands, of years) and will continue to be as long as they keep the planet going with their environmentalism (2 Peter 3:3-4).
These people don’t know that the world will endure only 10-20 more years and is being “reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). They don’t know that “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (3:10). The coral reefs young people lovingly preserve with precious time and money will be destroyed by fire before they’re old and gray.
Should we as Christians care about the environment? Yes. God told Adam and Eve, and their descendants, to “subdue” and “have dominion” over the earth (Genesis 1:28). We are its stewards. We should care for animals and plants, not mistreat them. But in the end, God doesn’t need us to sustain the world. He does that himself 24-7, while we’re asleep. God is a much better steward. Not only that, people are more precious. Their souls will enjoy heaven or endure hell for all eternity. People don’t have a shelf-life. How we treat them matters most. This is why the gospel of Jesus Christ is the first agenda for a Christian – not social or environmental justice.
In the end, people do not want to pay the ultimate price: dying to oneself in this world so one can live and reign with Jesus Christ in the next. People don’t want paradise on God’s terms. They want to reign now, not subject to the good or bad rule of others. If they choose themselves rather than Christ, they won’t enjoy the millennium anyway. They’ll suffer in hell for eternity.
Those who believe in and wait for the millennial reign of Christ don’t seek world justice and peace here on earth. Instead, they put all human judgment in the hands of God, give glory to God by enduring unrighteousness for his sake, and pursue the daily business of living as they tell others about Jesus. They also seek holiness (2 Peter 3:11-14).
This earth will pass away soon. After the millennium, a new one will take its place. Only God’s heaven is eternal. Let us store our treasures, seeking peace and justice, there (Matthew 6:20).