Over the next few weeks we will continue to share with you the opinions of 13 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Revelation. One of the most controversial concepts concerning Bible prophecy is the belief that at the end of the Church Age and following the conclusion of the Tribulation Jesus will return to this earth to reign for a 1,000 years. The Catholic Church rejects this idea and so do the majority of Christian denominations. So, what about it? Is Jesus returning to reign or not?
The members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will sit this one out now as Dr. David Reagan and Nathan Jones continue to address:
#9. Is Jesus returning to set up an actual thousand year long kingdom?
Dr. Reagan: I would like to start off by looking at the Millennial Kingdom in the the Old Testament itself. I grew up in an Amillennial church, a church that didn't believe that Jesus would come back and reign, and we never studied the Old Testament. We were a "New Testament Church."
We had three mantras in our church concerning Bible prophecy. One was — all Old Testament prophecy has been fulfilled. Not one prophecy has been left to be fulfilled. They based that on a statement by Jesus in Luke 24:44 where He said, "All things which are written about me in the Law of Moses, and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." Certainly they must be fulfilled, but it doesn't say they have already been fulfilled. There are lots of prophecies about the Second Coming in the Old Testament.
The second mantra was the Old Testament was nailed to the cross and therefore is completely irrelevant to us today. That was based on Colossians 2:14 where it speaks about having cancelled the debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us, and taking it and nailing it to the cross. The church taught then that the Old Testament was nailed to the cross, so that's it. But, that verse doesn't say the Old Testament was nailed to the cross. It says the debt of sin that we owed was nailed to the cross through what Jesus did on the cross.
The third mantra was there's not one verse in the Bible that even implies that Jesus will ever put His feet on this earth again. Well, I discovered some in the Old Testament like Zechariah 14, which says the Messiah is coming back to the Mount of Olives and when His foot touches the mountain it is going to be split in half, and He will become King over the earth that day. The other one I discovered was in Ezekiel 43:7 where God says, "This city Jerusalem is the place where the soles of my feet will be forever." So, there are some references to Christ's kingdom in the Old Testament.
Old Testament References
Dr. Reagan: Now, let's look for a moment at this fundamental issue. Is the concept of the Millennium mentioned only in the New Testament? I've had Amillennialist just scoff and say, "Well, it is only mentioned in the book of Revelation in one chapter." As, if that makes it irrelevant or unimportant if something is mentioned in one verse! To me it is important. But, they just seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that there is any mention of the Millennial Kingdom in the Old Testament.
What do you think? Is there any mention of the Millennium in the Old Testament?
Nathan Jones: Oh, definitely, definitely. As a matter of fact, when you asked me about that for our series of interviews on Revelation, I actually went and researched and I ended up with four pages of verses. Those don't even include the longest which is Ezekiel chapters 40-48. There are nine chapters right there that are purely about the Millennium.
Dr. Reagan: Give me an example.
Nathan Jones: Let's take Psalm 2:6-9. "I have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill. I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.'"
That's probably the first clear verse that I've got on my list which talks about Jesus having a kingdom right here on earth. It will clearly be a physical kingdom where Jesus will rule over the nations of the world, and not totally in a spiritual sense, though that's certainly an aspect of it. But, Christ's kingdom will be by physical rulership where He is actually on this earth.
Dr. Reagan: There are so many verses like that in the Old Testament. One chapter that immediately comes to mind is over in the book of Isaiah in chapter 9, one that people quote all the time, but they just seem to spiritualize a part of it. Isaiah 9 beginning with verse 6 declares, "The government will rest on His shoulders... a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us." That's the birth of Jesus. That's the birth of the Messiah.
Then it says, "The government will rest on His shoulders."That didn't happen at the First Coming. "His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. And there will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace. And on the throne of David which is in Jerusalem, He will reign to establish and uphold justice and righteousness from then for forevermore." Jesus has never reigned on the Throne of David. He has never established peace and righteousness on this earth. But, it's going to happen one of these days. How can we ignore passages like this?
Nathan Jones: We can't. But, a lot of people ignore them because they spiritualize them.
You and I had a different upbringing. I went to a lot of churches growing up and they always taught that the Old Testament was important. I grew up learning about these verses, so it kind of surprises me when people say we should never bother learning from the Old Testament.
Dr. Reagan: What a blessing you had!
Nathan Jones: It was a blessing.
Dr. Reagan: I think for example of the very first gospel sermon ever preached by Peter on the Day on Pentecost. What did he do? If you go and read that sermon in Acts 2, all he did was quote the Old Testament. The prophet said this, and Jesus fulfilled it. The prophet said this, and Jesus fulfilled it. The prophet said this, and Jesus fulfilled it. The people asked, "What do we need to do to be saved?"
Then, look at Paul. He said to Timothy that he had known from childhood the Scriptures that are necessary to lead him to salvation. That's talking about the Old Testament. The New Testament didn't exist when he was talking about those verses.
Nathan Jones: During Jesus' whole ministry He was quoting Scripture. Everywhere you read He is quoting, and at that time they didn't have a separate Old Testament and New Testament, what we call the Old Testament.
Dr. Reagan: One of the greatest of all of the prophecies I know of in the Old Testament about the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ is in Isaiah 2. How about taking that one for us, that is so beautiful, so great, and so powerful. Why don't you just read it.
Nathan Jones: Sure. Isaiah is great for learning about the Millennial reign. Isaiah 2 beginning in verse 2, "In the last days the mountains of the Lord's Temple will be established as chief among the mountains. It will be raised above the hills. And all the nations will stream to it."
Dr. Reagan: Now, just stop there for a moment. One of the things that people can learn in Bible prophecy is there are a lot of symbolic terms, but they have literal meanings. When you read Bible prophecy you will discover that whenever it refers to mountains, it's always referring to a kingdom unless the mountain is specifically named. So, basically, what this is saying here is in the last days, the days we are in now, the kingdom of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of all the kingdoms. Go ahead with verse 3.
Nathan Jones: "Many people will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.'"
Here comes that verse that we love to talk about in Bible prophecy. "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." Now, that certainly hasn't been fulfilled. Just read in the news and watch on TV — there's war constantly. But, here we are talking about a time period when there will be no war on this earth. We will live totally at peace with the Lord ruling from Jerusalem. Right there that is a major, major Old Testament verse about the Millennial Kingdom.
Dr. Reagan: You would have to do mighty acts of spiritualization to get around that one. I think that is very clear.
Nathan Jones: Exactly!
Dr. Reagan: The interesting thing to me is that the prophet Micah has almost the same prophecy word for word. Either they borrowed from each other or the Lord gave to both of them the same vision and concept and the same wording. In Micah chapter 4 beginning with verse 1 he has exactly the same words. Then he adds some things to it. Micah says, "That in that day I will assemble the lame, and gather the outcast." And he says, "That I will make the lame a remnant and the outcast a strong nation the Jewish people will become the prime nation of the world. And the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion." The Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion? Has He ever done that? No. Mount Zion is Jerusalem. But, according to this verse, from now on forever more the Messiah is going to reign.
Micah even reports in verse 4 that each will have their own vine and their own fig tree. There's not going to be any more homeless or any hungry people. All needs are going to be met. It's a time that has never occurred in the history of the world. It has to be future.
Nathan Jones: What's wonderful about this prophecy is the curse that is on humanity right now makes it hard to grow anything. I can barely grow anything but onions around Texas! The curse includes child bearing pains, along with everything else that was cursed on the earth to make it difficult to live. These will be partially lifted during that time period.
We can get into the verses which talk about the child playing in the pit with the adders, and the wolf lying down with the lamb. In other words, there is going to be peace between the animals and humanity during that time. There's little fear of dying anymore.
Dr. Reagan: You just mentioned one of my favorite passages in the Old Testament about the Millennium. It's from Isaiah 11 where he speaks about the impact upon the environment. It's not just going to be a time of refreshment for us, but for the whole of creation. Jesus died for all of the creation to be renewed and refreshed.
Isaiah 11:7 says, "The cow and bear will graze together." These are natural enemies. Continuing in verse 6, "The wolf will lie down with the lamb." The wolf who wants to eat the lamb, well they are going to lie down together. "The leopard will lie down with a kid, the calf, and young lion and the fatling together, the little boy will lead the cow and bear will graze. The young will lie down together. The lion will eat straw like the ox." There will no longer be any poisonous animals. It says, "The nursing child will play with the hole of the cobra." It won't be poisonous. There won't be meat eating animals. They will go back to being vegetative. All of nature will live in peace with each other and with man. When did that occur?
Nathan Jones: Never! Let's look at all this talk in the news about Jerusalem. The whole world is fighting to take over control of Jerusalem right now. People are wondering if the Palestinians are going to take half of the city or not. But, we can look in Isaiah 33:20-22 where it says, "Look upon Zion the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode" (certainly not now), "a tent that will not be moved; its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes broken again." Skipping down to verse 22, "For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is He who will save us." Jerusalem will be the capital city of the planet during the Millennial Kingdom.
Dr. Reagan: I'm convinced that many people who have an Amillennial viewpoint which is based upon spiritualization of Scripture do so because they simply cannot accept what the Bible says is going to happen with regard to the Jewish people. During the Millennium, God is going to during that 1,000 years fulfill all the promises that He has made to Israel. All the unfulfilled promises will be fulfilled to a group of Jews who are believing Jews, who really believe in the Messiah. He's going to regather them from the four corners of the earth in belief. Right now He is gathering them in unbelief, reestablishing them.
All the blessings of the world are going to flow out through Jerusalem and through the Jewish people, so much so that Zechariah says in Zechariah 8:22, "Many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of host in Jerusalem, to entreat the favor of the Lord. And thus says the Lord of host," (this is incredible), "in those days ten men from the nations, Gentiles, will grasp the garment of a Jew and say, 'Let us go with you for we know God is with you.'" That relationship is going to be exactly opposite from what it is today where the Jew is the object of persecution, the object of blasphemy, and every other persecution. Today most people pour all the fault on the Jews. They blame everything on the Jews. But, in that coming day and time people are going to say, "Can we walk with you because we know God is with you." What a day that's going to be!
Nathan Jones: It is amazing! God has made some promises. He has promises to the Jews to be fulfilled, just like you just said. He has promised to His Son Jesus. He has promised that Jesus is going to rule and reign over the earth. We are waiting for that to come about.
Dr. Reagan: Jesus will get all the glory and majesty He didn't get the first time.
Nathan Jones: We read in the Bible that we have the promise that Jesus is going to restore the earth. Also, God has made promises to the Church as well. We have our own a place in the Millennial Kingdom to rule and reign with Christ as administrators and teachers and jobs like that. So, all these promises which God made aren't going to just not happen. God always follows through on His promises. It is during the Millennial Kingdom when Jesus is going to fulfill those promises.
Dr. Reagan: Yes. It's not just promises to the Jews. It's promises to the Church as well, because you just mentioned something very important in Daniel 7 where he has a vision in which he sees God the Father giving the kingdom to the Son. And then it says there, "The saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom also, and possess the kingdom." And, verse 27 reveals, "The sovereignty, the dominion, the greatness of all the kingdoms of the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One." That's you and me and all believers!
We are going to reign together with Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus said one of the degrees of reward that we will receive is some will rule over one city, one over five, one over ten. And, we are going to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in our glorified bodies. That's not just found in the Old Testament.
Nathan Jones: No, we can find those promises in the New Testament as well. Second Timothy 2:12 promises, "If we endure we will also reign with Him; if we disown Him He will also disown us." We will reign with Him! Isn't it amazing/ We are just so not worthy, yet through Jesus' blood through His sacrifice, He elevates us to a position of serving with Him where we rule and reign over the people in the Millennial Kingdom who are living there in their earthly bodies. The Church will have been raptured and we will have our glorified bodies to live in them during the Millennial Kingdom.
I just get so excited! I look so forward to the Millennial Kingdom, primarily for the peace that the Millennial Kingdom promises. All the craziness of the world will no longer be here. We'll actually have peace. And, I hope God gives me a big garden to be in charge of and I will just garden for the thousand years. I'm looking forward to that kind of peace.
In the next part of this series on reading and understanding Revelation, the members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will answer the tenth question, and a personal one at that: "Why have you devoted your life to the teaching and preaching of Bible prophecy?"