The dispensation of the millennial kingdom – What is it?
Dispensationalism is a theological framework describing how God interacts with people at different times of history, referred to as dispensations. There are seven dispensations. The dispensation of the millennial kingdom is the seventh and final dispensation. The first six are, in order, the dispensations of innocence (God and humans interacting face to face), conscience (humans were to follow their God-given consciences), human government (God's expectations were to be enforced by human institutions), promise (God's promise to Abraham and his descendants), Law (focused on Israel, God's provision through rules and laws), and grace (God relating with all people by the Holy Spirit, received by faith in Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Law. We are currently in this dispensation).
The dispensation of the millennial kingdom is described in Revelation and includes a 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ on earth (Revelation 20:1–10).
Each dispensation can be thought of in six parts. The elements of the dispensation of the millennial kingdom are:
Managers: Resurrected Old Testament saints, the glorified Church, and survivors of the tribulation and their descendants Time Period: From the second coming of Jesus Christ until the final rebellion, 1,000 years Human Responsibility: Obedience, remain undefiled, worship Jesus (Isaiah 11:3–5; Zechariah 14:9) Failure: Rebellion of sinful man following Satan's release from the Abyss, sinful man rebels one more time (Revelation 20:7–9) Judgment: Fire from God; the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:9–15) Grace: Jesus Christ restores creation and rules righteously in Israel, with all saints assisting (Isaiah 11:1–5; Matthew 25:31–46; Revelation 20)
Importantly, this dispensation, the millennial kingdom, comes after the dispensation of grace—the coming to earth by God in Jesus Christ. Jesus extended grace at that time and will extend justice at His next, or second, coming. He spoke of this coming, which believers look forward to, when He spoke to the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:62). The millennial kingdom is what is referred to in the Lord's Prayer, which begins: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9–10).
Peace will finally be realized during the 1,000-year reign of Jesus (Isaiah 11:6–7). Accompanying peace will be justice (Isaiah 11:3–4), unity (Isaiah 11:10), abundance (Isaiah 35:1–2), healing (Isaiah 35:5–6), righteousness (Isaiah 35:8), and joy (Isaiah 55:12). These characteristics of life together are only possible by the physical presence of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 16:5). As for Satan, he will reside in the Abyss, unable to escape (Revelation 20:1–3).
Jesus will rule over the world, and employ resurrected saints to participate in that rule (Isaiah 9:6–7; Revelation 20:4–6).
However, what follows is rebellion. Sinful people simply cannot abide this perfect and just rule (Isaiah 11:1–5) and, as individuals today do, will follow Satan. That rebellion will be defeated and its leader cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10) along with those who are found unrighteous in all the dispensations as judged by Jesus on the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11–15). Ushered in then will be the new Jerusalem and the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21). God's plan of redemption will be completed, and people will know God as never before and enjoy Him forever.
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