Q: What is the Millennium?

This word actually isn’t found in the Bible, but commonly refers to a thousand-year period (from Latin, mille, thousand, and annus, year).As the world braced for the possible Y2K computer “bug,” pundits noted that history was entering into a third millennium since the birth of Christ.

In the book of Revelation, chapter 20, we find a time period of one thousand years which seems to be positioned between the Second Coming of Christ and a later time of final judgment. In verse 5, the Bible talks about a number of rebellious sinners who are not resurrected when Jesus returns to earth; instead they come to life at the end of this thousand-year period.

What happens during this millennium? Bible students debate this matter, but there is considerable evidence to suggest that God’s resurrected and redeemed children will spend this time in heaven “reigning with Christ.” In John 14:1-3, Jesus gives a clear promise: Where I am [heaven], there you will be also. Verse 12 paints a picture of judgment books being opened and the eternal fate of those who have rejected God’s offer of grace being sealed. At the conclusion of this period, according to John, I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (21:2).

We observe that during the millennium, Lucifer is cast . . . into the bottomless pit [Abyss, NIV]. What does this mean? Consider the possibility that all those who were saved are safely in heaven. In addition, as we read, lost men and women stay dead during the entire thousand years. Thirdly, Scripture seems to suggest that any unsaved person who is alive when Jesus comes back will be overwhelmed by the glory of His return . . . and they will perish as well. II Thess. 2:8: Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

With that in mind, this planet may well be completely depopulated! For one thousand years, Satan and his fallen angels would roam the ruins of our world with no human beings to consort with or harass. If so, the chains referred to in Revelation could simply be “chains of circumstance.” We often say “my hands are tied” when we have no options or activities left open to us, and Lucifer will have a millennium of silence in which to ponder his fate as the arch-rebel of all time.

At the conclusion of the millennium, we read in Rev. 20:7, these sleeping rebels will suddenly be given one final moment of life. Along with Lucifer, they will attempt to mount a final attack on the New Jerusalem which has just come down to earth. However, in one of the universe’s most tragic moments, God will finally bring a fiery end to the rebellion.

Bible students are somewhat divided into three schools of thought: amillennialism, premillennialism, and postmillennialism. I feel that Bible evidence favors the premillennialist position – that Jesus’ coming happens at the beginning of the thousand years – but suggest that for God’s people, that great time of celebration happens in heaven, not here in a ravaged world.

The good news about the millennium is that it ushers in an eternity of peace and holiness, with God recreating our world to last forever as a place where we dwell with him.