Life, Hope & Truth

1,000 Years—the Millennium

Is the Bible’s prediction about a thousand years of peace on earth real? What is the Millennium, and what will Jesus’ 1,000-year reign mean for you?

What is the Millennium?

The Millennium is the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ described in Revelation 20. The Old Testament prophets also announced and longed for this messianic kingdom of peace on the earth.

Why is this called the Millennium? “Since in Latin mille means ‘thousand,’ a millennium lasts 1,000 years” (Merriam-Webster.com).

1,000 years of peace

In an unstable world threatened by wars, terrorism, weather disturbances and natural disasters, the concept of a 1,000-year period of peace—often called the Millennium—fascinates us.

It’s not surprising that people should be curious about the future. What is surprising is how little true information is available about the Millennium of peace spoken of in the Bible and how little most people understand about the topic.

The Bible is the only sure source of understanding on this topic; and it, in fact, has a lot to say about an upcoming 1,000-year period of time. Yet the common English translations of the Scriptures don’t use the term millennium. And there are not that many explicit references to a “thousand years” in the Bible.

Even so, the Scriptures do contain much information about the coming Millennium and an absolute assurance that it will come.

1,000 years in the Bible

Let’s take a look at those passages that speak of a “thousand years.”

Psalm 90:4 tells us that “a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.” For God, the passage of time is different from the way we experience it. Being eternal, and not dependent on food, water and other physical factors, God views time differently.

The apostle Peter adds to the thought: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).

1,000 years Revelation

The first explicit statements that the Kingdom of God will reign on earth for a thousand years appear toward the end of the Bible, in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 19 describes the return of Jesus Christ, coming in glory and power to take over the kingdoms of this world and to institute a new, just reign here on earth (verses 11-16). He will put down rebellion, remove the last human empire ruling on earth and institute the reign of the government of God for the 1,000-year Millennium.

We believe these passages clearly refer to a literal thousand-year reign after Jesus Christ returns. This has been called premillennialism, since Christ returns before the thousand years (compared to postmillennialism and amillennialism, which we don’t believe fit what the Bible says).

Satan bound before the Millennium

Next, we read of one of the first events to take place following the return of Jesus Christ the Messiah: “Then I [the apostle John] saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while” (Revelation 20:1-3).

Here we read for the first time of the duration of this initial phase of the reign of God on earth—1,000 years! We are also given insight into why it will be a very good time: Satan the devil, the enemy of God and His plan, will be banished for those same 1,000 years. Welcome to the Millennium!

Jesus’ 1,000-year reign

But let’s keep reading. John writes, “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them [the saints of God]. 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” (verse 4).

Here we see that the saints of God, those who refused to follow the beast power of the last days, will have the privilege of reigning with Jesus Christ for 1,000 years.

Jesus’ 1,000-year reign is the focus of so many beautiful messianic prophecies. Some favorite descriptions of this age of peace include:

  • “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 11:9).
  • “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:5-6).
  • “Now 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 peoples shall flow to it. Many nations 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 the law shall go forth, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
    “He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; 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. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken” (Micah 4:1-4).

The apostle Peter summed these prophecies up this way: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21; see our article “The Prophesied Restoration of All Things”).

What happens after the Millennium?

“But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection” (verse 5).

Who are “the rest of the dead”? This will be the great majority of humanity (exclusive of the saints) who will have to wait in their graves for 1,000 years until they are brought back to life in a resurrection separate and distinct from that of the saints. The “first resurrection” will take place at the return of Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17); a second resurrection will take place 1,000 years later.

Which is better? The book of Revelation makes it clear: “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 20:6).

Those resurrected in the first resurrection, at the beginning of the Millennium, will no longer be subject to death. To learn more about this subject, be sure to read our article “Resurrections: What Are They?”

Satan released after the Millennium

Here in Revelation 20 we read the phrase “thousand years” six times. This chapter makes it clear there will indeed be a millennial reign of Jesus Christ on earth and that it will be a much better time than this age of man that precedes it.In verse 7 we read of the release of Satan the devil after the 1,000 years is complete and how he will have one last chance to go out and deceive the nations of this world before being cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (verse 10-11).

Here in Revelation 20 we read the phrase “thousand years” six times. This chapter makes it clear there will indeed be a millennial reign of Jesus Christ on earth and that it will be a much better time than this age of man that precedes it.

More prophecies of the Millennium

But that’s by no means the whole story. Though the use of the phrase “thousand years” is limited, we read and learn wonderful facts about the coming Millennium in many other passages of the Bible.

Elsewhere—especially in the writings of the Old Testament prophets—we can read of the impact the ruling Kingdom of God will have during the Millennium in areas that include world peace, economic stability, the restoration of true education and right values, the role of the resurrected saints, the roles of various physical nations and even changes in the nature of animals.

The Millennium is going to be a wonderful and exciting time—something we can eagerly look forward to. To learn how you can be part of this exciting future, read “Seek First the Kingdom of God.”

About the Author

Ralph Levy

Ralph Levy

Ralph Levy is a native of London, England, and now a naturalized citizen of the United States. He works primarily as a professor of theology at Foundation Institute, Center for Biblical Education, in Texas. Foundation Institute is the educational institution of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

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