Why do you believe that there will be a literal millennial period, of 1,000 years, after Jesus returns?

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Why do you believe that there will be a literal millennial period, of 1,000 years, after Jesus returns? Scripture seems to clearly indicate that the Day of the Lord will come when we least expect it, as a "thief." It will be one single final day, the end of time as we know it, and it will include the replacement of this current world and universe.

Ted’s Response:

I embrace a millennial view for several reasons, not the least of which is because John wrote that Satan will be bound for a thousand years (Revelation 20:2): the Millennium. I accept this to be literal (as I do most everything in Revelation), and I do not believe that it has happened yet.

I realize that Preterists believe that the majority of events in Revelation already have taken place. Some have a compelling need to explain—with familiar, tangible, historical events—many of the events about which John (and Daniel and others) wrote. Others simply cannot believe that God would provide John with such amazing visions of the distant future.

For the most part, I absolutely disagree with the Preterist view, especially its attempt to "explain" much of what is contained within the books of Revelation and Daniel by citing past events. I am convinced that everything after Chapter 3 in Revelation will take place at the end of the age and beyond. Even the messages Jesus gave to the churches in Chapters 2 and 3, I believe, apply not only to the churches in John's time but also to the churches at the end of the age, during the latter part of the 70th Week, when persecution of believers will abound (having escalated precipitously at the midpoint of that seven-year period). (See repentance, endurance, and overcoming.)

There are six listings of "thousand years" in Revelation 20:2-7. That emphasizes the idea, to me, that Jesus will be here to reign on this earth, literally, for 1,000 years. Amillennialists must insist that the "thousand years" are figurative or symbolic. I personally do not accept this idea. Following the thousand years will be the judgment of the unsaved from all the ages (20:11-15), after which this present universe (heavens and earth) will pass out of existence. Then a brand new, pristine Creation will come into existence (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). (See old and new Creations.)

The Millennium will be a time when Jesus and glorified believers will "rule with an iron scepter" (Revelation 2:27, 12:5, 19:15), which I believe has not happened before in history, either figuratively or literally. That will not happen until Jesus returns. It will be a time when the inhabitants of the earth are shown how world conditions could have been, had humanity obeyed God and His laws throughout history.

During the Millennium, sin will be present (since death, the penalty of sin, will not be destroyed until the thousand years are over—Revelation 20:14). However, unlike in the present age, all sin will be revealed and punished immediately, rather than having to go through endless excuses and court battles, as is the case now. During the Millennium, Jesus will rule and reign until He has put all of His enemies under his feet; and death, the last enemy, finally will be destroyed (1 Cor. 15:25,26).

In ancient Hebrew (i.e., in the Old Testament), a literal definition of "day" (yôm) can be any one of these:

Thus, yôm can indicate a solar day, a week, a year, a thousand years, billions of years, or any period of time that God chooses to make it, at any given time. It depends upon the context in which it is used.

Paul wrote that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2), and destruction will come upon them suddenly (5:3). He was talking to "brothers" (5:1)—that is, to believers in Jesus as Lord and Savior, such as himself. But he was talking about those in the world who, just prior to the arrival of the Day of the Lord, will be clueless about the signs taking place around them. The latter are the unsaved, on whom destruction will come suddenly, and they will not escape (5:3).

Then Paul said, "But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness" (1 Thessalonians 5:4,5). Thus, the Day of the Lord will not come as a "thief" for believers.

I am convinced that the supernatural signs in the sky, during the Sixth Seal (sun turns dark, moon turns red, stars appear to be falling—Revelation 6:12,13; Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24,25), will be the distinct signals to everyone that the day of the Lord's wrath (Revelation 6:16,17) is imminent. This will be the time when God's vengeance will be doled out, on the "day of vengeance," primarily in response to those slain during the fifth seal events, crying out for Him to avenge their blood (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4; Revelation 6:9,10).

Panicked unbelievers will be running and hiding in terror (Revelation 6:15). On the contrary, believers will be rejoicing, knowing that their redemption, via the Pre-wrath Rapture, is at hand. The latter will know that God has not appointed them to suffer wrath but, rather, to receive salvation through Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:9), via the Rapture. The great multitude of saints that John foresaw in heaven (Revelation 7:9), following the events of the sixth seal, are those who will have been caught up out of the Great Tribulation (7:13,14) in the Rapture.

It isn't until after the opening of the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1) that God's righteous wrath will be dispensed upon the earth, initially via the supernatural trumpet judgments. This will be the first phase of the Day of the Lord period: the "day of vengeance." The fifth trumpet judgment alone will last for five months (9:5,10). I believe, in fact, that all of the trumpet judgments—the "day of God's vengeance"—will take place during a year's time, as predicted specifically in Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4 (see The Seventh Year).

Jesus' return to earth to reign will be directly associated with the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet (Revelation 11:15-17). Other parallel passages describing His return are Isaiah 63:1-6; Zechariah 8:3,22, 14:3,4,9; and Revelation 14:14-20, 19:11-21. Then the millennial period, constituting the rule and reign of Jesus and the glorified saints, will ensue, as delineated in Revelation 20:2-7.

I believe that the Day of the Lord period will not last merely one day or even one year but, additionally, will continue throughout the entire Millennium after Jesus returns. There are several reasons why I believe this to be the case—too numerous to list here, although I will give three.

Firstly, 2 Peter 3:7 indicates that "the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." This is a direct reference to the single day of the white throne judgment, when the present earth and sky will flee from the presence of God, and all those (unsaved) standing before Him will be judged and destroyed (Revelation 20:11-15). I believe it is quite plausible that this entire universe will be thrown into the lake of fire, which most likely exists in another dimension that cannot be seen. The "Day of Judgment" will be the final day of the "Day of the Lord" period.

Secondly, 2 Peter 3:8 continues, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." A couple of verses later, Peter reiterates the Day of the Lord concept, initially by noting that it will come like a thief. Many of the ungodly, who will be resurrected and destroyed forever at the end of the Millennium (on the Day of Judgment), will be those for whom the Day of the Lord initially will come like a thief (just as Paul indicated in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, referring to these oblivious unbelievers).

Thirdly, Jesus has not yet returned to earth, physically, to rule and reign. That is a future event. Chapter 20 of Revelation follows naturally, and chronologically, after Chapter 19. As soon as Jesus returns, and tends to His immediate "business" (Revelation 19:11-21), the Millennium will begin (20:1,2). The proper chronology of the Book of Revelation is vital in understanding the 70th Week, the final seven years of this age (see my commentary, The Chronology of Revelation).

That "day" of the Lord will last for 1,000 years, as per 2 Peter 3:8 ("With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day") and Revelation 20:2,3,4,5,6,7, plus the year of wrath (the "day" of vengeance) tacked onto the beginning. Referring to the bulk of the Day of the Lord period (that is, the Millennium), Isaiah wrote, "In that day the Branch of the Lord [Jesus] will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel" (Isaiah 4:2). This is because most of our world will be a utopia during the Millennium, with Jesus sitting in Jerusalem as its ruler.

At the very end of that same "day" (of the Lord), "The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). It is that "day" which ultimately will "bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat" (3:12). And then God's brand new Creation will come into existence. This present, imperfect Creation will have been burned up and will have passed away (Revelation 21:1), having finally fulfilled its purpose in gaining God everything He has wanted: perfect, complete, and undivided intimacy with those of this creation who have chosen to be with Him eternally.

See also Why has God planned a Millennium of Jesus' reign, rather than have Jesus make a new heavens and earth immediately when He returns?

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