The thousand-year reign of Jesus, also known as the millennium or the millennial kingdom, is a period of time between the Tribulation and the destruction of the world when Jesus will reign over all the earth. The purpose of the thousand-year reign is to allow for the fulfillment of several promises God made with Israel, Jesus, the Gentiles, and creation.
What is the reason for the 1000-year reign of Christ?
Promises to Israel
Throughout Israel's history, God has made several unilateral (one-sided) promises, or covenants, promising to bless Israel in specific ways. Some of these covenants have yet to be fulfilled. The Palestinian Covenant (Genesis 15:18-20; Numbers 34:1-12) outlines the exact borders Israel is possess for eternity; the nation of Israel has yet to encompass these specific boundaries. The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7) is the promise that God made to David that David's heir would sit on the throne of Israel forever. Jesus is that heir, but He has yet to take His physical, political birthright. The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34) outlines the promise that Israel as a nation will return to God and worship their Messiah (Romans 9-11). These covenants will be fulfilled during the 1000-year reign.
Promises to Jesus
In Psalm 110, David records the promises that God ("The LORD") made to Jesus ("my Lord"). God invites Jesus to sit at His right hand until God makes Jesus' enemies a footstool. Jesus will rule over, judge, and shatter His enemies while His people worship Him freely. This combination of judging enemies and being worshiped by the faithful cannot happen simultaneously in the eternal heaven, because in heaven there will be no sin or rebellion to judge. Similarly, In Daniel 7:11-14, Jesus is given dominion over all the people, nations, and languages before His enemies are permanently destroyed.
Promises to the Gentiles
The promise in Daniel 7:11-14 refers to Gentiles, as well. It says that Jesus will be given dominion over all the nations. The whole world will know God (Isaiah 11:9). In addition to Jesus' rule over the Gentiles, His faithful followers will be given positions of authority (Luke 19:12-27; Revelation 5:10; 1 Corinthians 6:2).
Promises to Creation
Jesus' sovereignty will extend beyond human political systems and into all of creation. The curse will be lifted (Romans 8:18-23). Animals will live in peace again (Isaiah 11:6-9, 35:9, 65:25). Fields will be productive and freed from the curse of weeds (Isaiah 32:13-15). And the mortals who survived the Tribulation and populate the 1000-year reign will be freed from disease (Isaiah 33:24, 35:5-6, 61:1-2; Ezekiel 34:16).
In the midst of this paradise, there may be one more reason for Jesus' 1000-year reign. It may be the definitive proof that mankind cannot choose God, cannot choose good (Romans 3:11-12). Even though there is peace throughout the world, even though the worship of God is the norm for all nations, even though Jesus Himself will reign from Jerusalem, and even though Satan is bound and cannot influence people, there will still be those who do not choose Jesus as their Lord and Savior. For all those who wonder if Adam and Eve would have rebelled against God if the serpent hadn't tempted them, the end of the 1000-year reign tells the answer. Because when Satan is released in Revelation 20:7, the nations are completely open for his deception and willing to follow him into battle against Jesus one last time. And not just a few individuals—"number is like the sand of the sea" (vs. 8). The influence of Jesus over civilization and the removal of Satan are not enough to encourage people to follow God. Only the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts ensures we will choose good.
God made certain promises to Israel, Jesus, the Gentiles, and creation. 2 Peter 3:8-9 says, "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." The 1000-year reign offers the opportunity for God to fulfill His promises; the wait offers the opportunity for us to reach the world and teach others about Him.
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