Robert Jeffress - Heaven On Earth
Hi I'm Robert Jeffress and I'm so glad you joined us again for Pathway to Victory. If you enjoy a tough topic then you're in for a great treat today. We're continuing our series on Bible prophecy by looking at today the concept of The Millennium. The thousand year reign of Christ, during which satan will be bound. It's a controversial and often misunderstood future event. So join me today as we discover why The Millennium matters in our life, here on Pathway to Victory.
A mother wrote a letter to an advice columnist in the newspaper questioning the goodness of God after she had lost her beautiful 22-year-old daughter to a drunk driver. The mother said in the letter that she, after her daughter died, got on her knees and pleaded with God to bring her daughter back to life. "You can do anything God. You can perform miracles, please God let me trade places with her: please let me lie in that coffin, and let her live out her life in peace". But God refused to answer the mother's request.
At times, the mother said in her letter, she thought about suicide, but she lacked the courage to pull the trigger. Meanwhile the drunk driver that had killed her daughter spent less than six months behind bars. "Today", the mother wrote, "He walks in the sun while my little girl is in a dark grave". The mother closed her letter to the advice columnist by saying, "God didn't answer my prayers, and I resent being told that I have no right to question God. If there is a God, and if I ever get to meet him face to face, you can bet your life I will have plenty of 'WHY's' for him to answer. I want to know why my little girl died, and that drunk was allowed to go on living. I loved her more than my life, and I miss her so. I am mad that I'm having to live in a world where she no longer lives. I want to know why. I don't fear God, and I don't fear hell either. I know what hell is like. I've already been there since the day my precious daughter was killed".
Even though we might wince at that mother's defiant attitude toward God, we can empathize with her questions about the goodness of God. We know from reading Genesis 1 and 2 that at one time such a world did exist, but sin destroyed that world. Sin caused that paradise to be lost. But it hasn't been lost forever. If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to Revelation 19 as we talk about what is going to be in a sense, a type of heaven on earth. It's a period of time we call in Bible prophecy: The Millennium. Jot down this definition, The Millennium is the 1000-year period of time during which Christ will reign on the earth fulfilling God's promises to Abraham and his believing descendants.
Now even though the word millennium is not found in the Bible just like the word Trinity is not found in the Bible, the concept of the 1.000-year reign of Christ is found throughout the Bible, and especially in the passage we're going to look at today. Now look what happens when Christ returns at the climax of Armageddon. Revelation 19:20, "And the beast", that's the antichrist, "was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by whom he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. And these two (the beast and the false prophet) were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone".
Now remember I said there are three parts of that satanic trinity: the beast, that is antichrist: the false prophet, his lieutenant: but also, satan who is the power behind the beast and the antichrist. What happens to satan? Well he's not cast into the lake of fire - not at this point anyway. It continues in Revelation 20:1-6. Here's what happened to satan. John says, "Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, that is the serpent of old, who is the devil, satan, and bound him for a thousand years". Underline that phrase "A thousand years" in your Bible.
Verse 3, "And he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the", underline it again, "Thousand years were completed: after these things he must be released for a short time. Then I saw thrones, and they that sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the Mark upon their forehead and upon their hand: and they came to life and reigned with Christ for", how long? Underline it again, "A thousand years". Verse 5, "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the", underline it again, "Thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection: over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for", one more time, "A thousand years".
Now, we're going to talk about the characteristics of this 1.000-year period of time on the earth in just a moment, but here is the point I want to make right now: John could not be any clearer about how long this period of time is. Five times in just six verses he says a thousand years. A thousand years. A thousand years. A thousand years. A thousand years. A thousand years. And yet today there are people, Christians, who study the Bible and say: well I'm not sure how long The Millennium really is.
Now you have probably heard the terms before: pre-millennial, post-millennial, a-millennial, and you've wondered what in the world do those terms mean. The whole question of pre-, and post-, and a-millennialism is a question of when does Jesus Christ return in relationship to The Millennium. When is the return of Christ in relationship to The Millennium? The pre-millennial position, the pre-millennial position - that word "Pre", that prefix means before. The pre-millennial position is Jesus' second coming is before the 1.000-year reign of his on the earth. It comes before his 1.000 year reign. He comes first, and then he establishes his kingdom. That is the pre-millennial position. But the pre-millennial position, the one I hold to, is one that is much more than just simply a question of timing about the return of Christ. It has to do with what you believe about God's promise to believing Israel. Pre-millennialists see a distinction between the church, those saved from Pentecost until the rapture, and the believing descendants of Abraham. That's the pre-millennial position.
There's a second position: the post-millennial position. "Post" is a prefix that means what? It means after. That is, the post-millennial position is that Jesus Christ comes to earth after this 1.000 year time. You say: well, how could that be? Well, the post-millennialist believes that if Christians work hard enough, things will get better, and better, and better on earth, and finally we'll create kind of a utopia, a heaven on earth, and the world will be such a perfect place that it will be prepared for Christ's arrival.
The third position about The Millennium is the a-millennial position. Now that letter "A" before millennial in Greek is an alpha privative. It means "No" or "Without". The a-millennialist believes that the rule of Christ described in Revelation 20 is his rule in our own hearts after we accept Christ as our Savior. They do not believe that there is a literal 1.000 year period when Christ will rule on the earth. They see things as there'll be a time of tribulation, there'll be the second coming of Christ, and then there'll be a new heaven and a new earth. They see no rapture, they see no 1.000 year reign of Christ here on the earth.
What the a-millennialist believes is this. He will say: well, yes, God did make some promises to Israel, no doubt about it in Genesis 12, but when Israel rejected Christ, God transferred those blessings that should have gone to Israel and he made them applicable to the church of Jesus Christ. So he transferred the blessings from Israel to the church, and he transformed those promises from literal, physical promises to spiritual promises. The a-millennialist sees no distinction between the church and Israel. When you read about Israel, the new Israel, it's talking about the church, not the believing descendants of Abraham.
Now, here is the problem I have with that view: and that is that the promise God made to Abraham and his descendants was not a conditional promise. It was an unconditional promise. The Bible says God's promise to Abraham and his believing descendants was an unconditional promise. And if God doesn't fulfill these promises, literally that he made to believing Israel, how can I know he's going to fulfill his promises to me? When you look in the Old Testament, just about every Old Testament prophet looked forward to the coming rule of Messiah - not in heaven, but here on earth for that 1.000 year period of time.
Now some people will say that all of these prophecies made to Israel were already fulfilled. But anyone who knows history knows that wasn't true. There has never been a time when these prophecies of the Old Testament had been fulfilled. Well, other people say: well, OK, they're not going to be fulfilled here on earth, but the a-millennialist will say: well, they're going to be fulfilled in heaven. All of these Old Testament prophecies about the perfect world order, justice and righteousness, and freedom from sin that's a reference to heaven. But that doesn't work either. If you turn over to Isaiah 65:19-21, these words we've looked at before, they're prophecies about the Kingdom of God.
Isaiah 65:19, "I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people: and there will no longer be heard in her voice the weeping and sound of crying. No longer (verse 20) will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days: for the youth not will die at the age of 100 and the one who does not reach the age of 100 shall be thought to be accursed". So what period of time is he talking about? The a-millennialist says this refers to heaven. That doesn't work because there's no death in heaven. It's not that people lived to be 100, or 200, or 1.000 - they live forever and ever, Revelation 21:4, "There shall no longer be any death, or mourning, or crying, or pain: for the first things will have passed away".
So if Isaiah isn't talking about a period of time in which we're living now because we see babies dying all the time, and people dying well before a 100: and if he's not talking about heaven when there is no such thing as death - what period of time is he talking about? He's talking about The Millennium, the 1.000-year reign of Christ on the earth. The coming Kingdom of God was also preached throughout the New Testament as well. Remember the message of John the Baptist in Matthew 4:17? Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. In Matthew 10:7 Jesus said to his disciples, "As you go preach saying, 'the kingdom of heaven is at hand'".
When Jesus came, now get this, when Jesus came the first time on earth, he offered to set up his kingdom on earth. Had the Jews received him and acknowledged him as Messiah, his kingdom could have begun at that time. You say: now wait a minute, if they had accepted him instead of rejected him - that would have meant no crucifixion, and if there was no crucifixion there would have been no salvation. Exactly. The theme of scripture in Romans 11 is God used Israel's rejection of Messiah to bring about our salvation. They rejected the Kingdom of God when Christ came the first time. They rejected the idea of having Messiah rule over us. We will not have this man rule over us. Remember? They rejected the Kingdom of God: God's perfect rule over the earth.
But the fact that the kingdom was rejected does not mean it has been forfeited. The Kingdom of God has simply been postponed. There is a time coming when Christ is going to rule over this world. By the way, here would be a good point to clarify what we mean about the Kingdom of God. A king's kingdom is where what the king wants done gets done. That's a king's kingdom. It is his real estate over which he rules. So when we talk about the Kingdom of God what are we talking about? We're talking about that area over which God's will is perfectly done: where God faces no opposition: where what God wants done gets done.
So where is that? Well now we all know in one sense God is sovereign over all the universe: we understand that, but in a practical sense there is only one small corner of this universe where God's will is not being done. It's a little speck, it's a little dirtball called planet earth. And right now on planet earth there is an opposition to God's will. We see it every day, don't we? People who are defying God, but that opposition to God's will is only temporary. One day God is going to subjugate all of those who oppose him, and one day God's will will be done on earth as it is now being done in heaven. And that time when God's perfect will is done is called The Millennium.
Just think what would this world be like if everybody obeyed God's rules? No murder, no theft, no adultery, no divorce. It would truly be heaven on earth, wouldn't it? If everyone had a knowledge of God, if everyone reverenced God. There is a time coming when that's going to happen. The Kingdom of God has not been canceled: it's only been postponed for a little while. But here is the great news: there is a sense in which you and I can experience the benefits of the kingdom right now.
The Bible says when you and I submit to God's will we experience the kingdom in our life. I mean, to the extent, listen to this, to the extent that you obey God, you can experience all the benefits of the kingdom. You can have peace. You can have contentment. You can have power over sin. You can have strength over addictions. All of those benefits that come to the world when they one day will obey God can be yours right now when you submit to the kingdom rule of God over your life. Now you say: pastor, this is all interesting but so what? What difference does this make to me? What do I really need to know about the Kingdom of God? In these last few minutes I want you to write down four things that every Christian needs to understand about The Millennium.
Number one: only Christians will enter in to The Millennium. Only Christians will enter in to The Millennium. At the end of the tribulation, there will be many people who became Christians in the tribulation who will be martyred. Likewise, there'll be many non-christians who will be killed because of the natural disasters, but there will be both Christians and non-christians who survive, and are alive when Christ returns at the second coming. And when Christ returns at the second coming, there will be a judgment to separate the believers from the unbelievers because only believers will be invited to be a part of the millennial reign of Christ.
Now I want you to turn over to Matthew 24. I'm going to show you something that's going to blow your mind because it's going to correct something that you have probably misunderstood for many years. Remember Matthew 24 and 25 outlined the end times. Jesus begins by describing the tribulation in verses 1-28: and then he describes his second coming in verses 29-31. Now look at verses 36-42, "But of that day and that hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor his Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of man will be just like the days of Noah. For in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and (now underline this) took them all away: so shall the coming of the Son of man be. Then there will be two men in the field: one will be (underline it) taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one will be left. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming".
Now where is the one taken who is taken from the field? It's not that he's taken to heaven - he's taken into judgment. The same word "The flood came" in verse 39 "And took them all away" that same word is used to describe that person who was in the field who was taken away. The person grinding at the mill who was taken away is taken away into everlasting judgment. The one who is left is the one who is left to enter into the Kingdom of God on earth - The Millennium. You see, remember the context, the tribulation has already occurred: Christ is coming back at the second coming these are the judgments that will occur. The one that is taken is swept away into judgment: the one who is left is left to enter into the Kingdom of God.
Number two: Christians will rule with Christ during The Millennium. The Bible says the 12 apostles will be delegated some authority, some will be given to Christians who were martyred during the tribulation, Revelation 20:4, and some authority will be given to you and to me, 2 Timothy 2:12.
Number three: Jerusalem will be the center of the millennial kingdom. Over and over again the Old Testament prophets said Jerusalem: the real City of Jerusalem will be the center from which Messiah will rule. And even though the city's going to go through some great topological changes at the second coming, it's going to enjoy enhanced fertility: it is going to be Jerusalem from where Messiah rules. And because of that it is going to be, I believe, maybe, the catalyst that sparks the great war of Armageddon - the control over Jerusalem.
Number four: satan will be temporarily bound during The Millennium. He will be bound. Since the beginning of history satan has tried to deceive the world with this thought: life apart from God is both possible and it's really preferable. And because of that people have followed that lie, and created the world in which we live today. But the Bible says there is coming a period in history when satan will not be thrown into the lake of fire - that comes later - but he is going to be bound for a thousand years: and this world is going to get to see what life on earth would be like if everyone submitted to the will and the Word of God. But then notice something interesting, verse 3. It says, "After that time satan is going to be released for a little while longer". And if you read further, you'll find that he's actually going to deceive some people into following him.
Is it possible that you and I after becoming Christians, after having made it this far, having gone through The Millennium that at the last moment we could be deceived and make an irreversible mistake and follow satan, and be lost forever? And if it's not possible that that would happen to us, who is it that is going to be deceived by satan in these last days before the earth is destroyed? We're going to look at that next time. There is going to be a time when this world goes through a renovation, a time when the curse is partially - not completely, but partially - lifted. People will live longer. It will be a time when there'll be perfect peace in the world. People will marvel at how much better the renovated earth is than the world beforehand. But that renovated earth during The Millennium will pale in comparison to the superiority of the recreated the new heaven and the new earth that we will enjoy forever and ever.