The Thousand-Year Reign

by Leland M. Haines
Jesus' reign on earth will begin after the Battle of Armageddon. While on earth, Satan caused nothing but trouble for the saints. Not only will the armies Satan motivated be destroyed, but the power behind them will be put in bondage. An angel

    laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled. Revelation 20:2, 3

    Satan will not be able to deceive the nations and cause trouble on earth during this time, and Jesus will reign with the saints. Those "that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands . . . lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4). These martyrs who lose their lives during the Tribulation are mentioned earlier in the Book of Revelation (see 6:9-11; 13:7; 14:13; 17:6). The rest of the dead will not come to life until the thousand years are completed (20:4-6). This apparently includes those who rejected Jesus and those who lost their lives in the great battle around Jerusalem, but certainly all the ungodly dead are included in this general resurrection.

Many Old Testament prophets foretold of a kingdom ruled by the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:16). These prophets predicted the return of Israel and Judah from their worldwide dispersion to the Promised Land and the restoration of the Davidic kingdom. God promised David that his "kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever" (II Samuel 7:16; cf. Psalm 89:35-37). This promise was given to David's successor, Solomon, but was made dependent on his faithfulness (II Samuel 7:14, 15, 17; I Kings 2:3, 4; 9:4-9). Since Solomon and his successors proved unfaithful, the perpetuity of David's throne did not continue through them (Jeremiah 13:13, 14; 22:2-5, 18, 24-30; 29:16-19; 36:3-8). Their unfaithfulness however did not nullify the promise given to David. It remained in effect. But David's kingdom was taken from his descendants and held in reserve "until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him" (Ezekiel 21:27).

The Coming One who will reign on David's throne is foretold by the Old Testament prophets. Isaiah wrote, "The LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem" (Isaiah 24:23; see also 9:6ff.; 32:1ff.), and "He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth" (42:4). Jeremiah wrote, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth" (Jeremiah 23:5; cf. 33:15ff.). Ezekiel wrote, "I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd" (Ezekiel 34:23).

Daniel wrote, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people. . . . It shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44; cf. 7:27).

Hosea wrote, "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince. . . . Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days" (Hosea 3:4, 5).

Zechariah wrote,

    Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. Zechariah 9:9, 10

The first part of this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:7-10; Luke 19:35-38; John 12:12-16). The latter part is yet to be fulfilled. The extent of this King's rule was described later: "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9).

The expectancy of this kingdom ruled by the Messiah is also found in the New Testament. When Mary, the mother of Jesus, was told of being the "highly favoured" by the angel Gabriel, the angel told her of one part of Jesus' ministry: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32, 33).

Later Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, spoke:

    Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. Luke 1:68-75

Thus Jesus' ministry is linked to the deliverance set forth in the Old Testament prophecies.

Later Jesus said, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:29, 30; cf. Matthew 19:28ff.). These statements caused the apostles to ask Jesus at His ascension, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). When Jesus answered this question, He did not rebuke them for their fundamental assumption but only told them, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power," and then He commissioned them to be His witnesses (v. 7). Jesus accepted the apostles' concept of His future rule over a kingdom and explained to the apostles that the time of its fulfillment was not for them to know.

In his second sermon, Peter spoke of "Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:20, 21). Peter was referring to the Old Testament prophets speaking of a restored kingdom on earth, when Satan's power would be limited and righteousness would be established on earth.

The fulfillment of these promises will occur when Jesus Christ returns to earth as "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:16), reigning with "a rod of iron" (v. 15) for a thousand years (20:4). Jesus Christ brought a spiritual kingdom during His first coming, and a glorious, earthly kingdom will be established at His second coming.

Prophets described the future kingdom's character. Isaiah's prophecies give the most complete description of the earthly character of the thousand-year reign.

    And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2:2-4

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:6-9

    The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God. Isaiah 35:1, 2

    And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed . . . . The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD. Isaiah 65:19, 20, 25

For other Old Testament prophecies, see Jeremiah 30; 31; 33; Ezekiel 36; and Micah 4 and 5.

During this thousand-year reign, Jerusalem will be the center of the kingdom. "Every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles" (Zechariah 14:16).

In Revelation 21 John described two visions of holy cities. There is considerable difference of opinions about what cities he saw. Are these two visions of the same city? Or is one of the millennial Jerusalem and the other of the eternal city?

In the first vision John wrote, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:1, 2). This is apparently a vision of heaven since "the first heaven and the first earth were passed away," and there were no seas and death. This vision will be discussed later.

Following the above vision an angel asked John to come and see a city. This seems to be a different city than the one John saw in the first part of the chapter. One reason is that the angel said, "I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife" (Revelation 21:9), indicating John would see something different than he just saw. Another reason is John's statement that "kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it" (v. 24). John also wrote that "there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (v. 27). This statement implies this city is on the present earth since evil would not exist near the eternal "holy city, the new Jerusalem." Thus these Scriptures indicate that John described the millennial Jerusalem, the same city Zechariah wrote of (Zechariah 14:16, 17).

The angel showed John "the bride, the Lamb's wife" (Revelation 21:9), which refers to the church. He was shown "that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God" (v. 10). John gave a description of this city, including details of its gates, walls, and size. He used terms such as jasper, pure gold, sapphire, agate, emerald, and onyx to describe it. These terms indicate that it will be a magnificent city, unlike anything that has ever been (vv. 9-21). This description gives Christians the hope of a glorious future with Jesus Christ here on the earth.

This is from Chapter 7 of the book, Redemption Realized Through Christ, © copyright 1997 by Leland M. Haines, Northville, MI.

We highly recommend you read this book. It may be ordered from Biblical Viewpoints publication (see below) or visit Books.


You are welcome to make copies of the above article provided you show the copyright information and source.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Send them to the Webmaster.

This page is presented by:

Biblical Viewpoints Publications
63100 County Road 111
Goshen, IN 46526
Phone: 574-875-8007

Back to the Articles page.

Return to Home Page

May God's grace and peace be with you as you study His Word.

January 29, 2001