The Millennium and Beyond
A thousand years of peace, then a final test
First, a brief outline:
- Israel re-established in land, restored earthly Jerusalem and temple (Ezk. 36-37, 40-48, Jer. 30:10, 16-24, Amos 9:11-15)
- Rule by Christ and the souls of those who refused to worship the Beast or take its mark (Rev. 20:4)
After the Millennium
- Satan released (Rev. 20:7)
- Final battle of Gog/Magog but from all nations around the world (Rev. 20:8-9a)
- Satan’s world-wide army destroyed by fire (Zech. 14:12-13, Rev. 20:9b)
- Satan in Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10)
- New heavens and new earth without any sea (Rev. 21:1)
- New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2,9-22:5)
Revelation says nothing about the Millennium except that Jesus’ rule is augmented by judges comprised of those who had been beheaded during the Tribulation. This is called “the first resurrection”, yet it is clearly not applicable to the resurrection of the dead in Christ, since all of these people are those who had been beheaded for refusing to take the Mark of the Beast.
Some of the remaining Old Testament prophecies transpire during this time, such as the surviving Gentiles bringing their wealth into Jerusalem (Zech. 14), and the restoration of the land of Israel and a sacrificial system (Ezekiel 40–48). The measurements of the earthly city of Jerusalem distinguish it from the heavenly New Jerusalem that will descend at the end of the Millennium; careful attention to the details will show this to be indisputable. It may be that just as the first temple was a scale model of the one in heaven (Heb. 8:5), so also the earthly city will be a scale model of the New Jerusalem.
After the Millennium, Satan is briefly freed again to deceive the nations. This brings history full-circle from the Garden of Eden, where God proves in both cases that people will rebel against God even in a perfect environment. The world has been repopulated by righteous survivors of the judgments, but the children of these survivors will have no memory of the world run by Satan and evil people. They too will have to make a conscious choice about whether or not to live in the kingdom of God, and Satan will conscript all who choose the latter.
So at the end, Satan himself is thrown into the Lake of Fire, and all the people who ever rebelled against God are thrown in as well. Death and Hades are thrown in too, since there is no more need for them. Then, in Rev. 21, we are told many details about the New Jerusalem. It isn’t stated that this huge city ever touches the earth, but only that it descends from heaven. It is called “the wife, the bride of the Lamb”, and nothing is ever said about the people of the newly-rebuilt city of Jerusalem in the land of Israel moving to the New Jerusalem. It is possible that the land city is for Jews, while the new city is for Christians.
What happens after that, we are not told. But there is nothing that says we’ll be stuck playing harps forever, or grow wings, or any of a hundred other tales that have been told over the years. If we love and trust God, we can be sure that there was more to all this human history than sitting on clouds for eternity. All we know is that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).