Tony Evans - The Millennial Kingdom
Do you know your answer could be sitting right next to you, but you'll never know it until God is ready to reveal it? God says, "If you come back home, you'll see I haven't gone anywhere". So, you draw near to him, and he will draw near to you 'cause he's the one who's never left. If you walk in the Spirit, or walk by means of the Spirit, he will open up the hole for you to get through. The snake is gonna try to stir stuff up. The snake is gonna try to get you away from God. There is a serpent in the garden, and your job is to keep him out. Sometimes he brings a little something that's a little cue to let you know, "Keep on going, keep on trusting because I hear you".
Mankind has longed for utopia, paradise. You've seen it in TV, in movies; where we long for a time when the pain will end, when peace will reign, when problems will go away. Something has interrupted the dream of utopia. It's called sin. Whether it's your sin or somebody else's sin that affects you or even the environment that has been cursed by sin, sin has disrupted the possibility of utopia, paradise. In fact, Paul says in Romans chapter 8 that the whole creation groans under this curse. However, there is coming a time when there will be utopia, and that time is coming in history before we ever get to eternity, and we call it the millennium, the millennial rule of Jesus Christ. Millennium means 1.000. Let's review. Jesus raptures the church, seven years of tribulation, Jesus comes back to set up his millennial kingdom.
And so, today I want to talk to you about paradise, not heaven. We haven't gotten to heaven yet. I'm talking about history, the 1.000-year rule of Jesus Christ. To understand this, you have to understand why this 1.000-year period of time must occur. When God created Adam and Eve, he said let them rule. We call it the dominion covenant, where man was going to rule on Earth as managers of God's creation. That rule got interrupted by Satan and sin when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, leading to the deterioration of Earth. Lifespans began to decline, marital conflict entered in, Cain kills Abel. The world becomes wicked. The whole world, in Genesis 6, has to be destroyed by a flood because sin cursed the creation that man was supposed to rule on behalf of God. Because of the sin cycle, there was no man who God could use to oversee the rule on Earth, so God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ.
In Luke chapter 1, verses 31 to 33, we are told that Mary, the mother of Jesus, gave birth to a son who was to be in the seed of David and who was to rule on the throne of God. We know him to be Jesus. He has redeemed the people for his namesake called the church: Christians. There will be tribulation where God will remove the church. All hell is going to break loose on Earth as God's wrath is revealed, for it will no longer be held back because of the death of Christ. Christians during that seven-year period of time are going to be rewarded based on their faithfulness now. So, what you do now (I'll pick this up in a moment) will affect what you get to do in the millennium, in the 1.000-year rule of Christ, or what you don't get to do.
Luke chapter 19 gives one of the many illustrations in the Bible of a person who, based on their faithfulness, gained or lost reward in the millennial kingdom. He says some will be over ten cities, some will be over five cities, some will be over no cities because they were unfaithful during their earthly life here. All of this is setting the stage at the return of Christ, when the Bible says Christians will come back with him for this 1.000-year rule of Christ known as the millennium. The two reasons why the millennium will be utopia, paradise, the Bible even calls it a return to Eden, Ezekiel 36, verse 35, a return to Eden, we get back to what God originally designed.
There are two reasons why this will be paradise. One, as we'll say in a moment, Jesus will be ruling from Jerusalem. The capital of the whole earth will be Jerusalem. It's the conflict of the whole earth today. It will be the capital of the whole earth then. Jesus Christ, the Bible says, will rule with a rod of iron. In other words, there will be allowed to be no rebellion. You and I, based on our rewards, will be the people who he utilizes to make sure his rule is exactly as he wants it to be, and nobody will be able to override you 'cause you will have a glorified body. So, you won't have to worry about rebellion against you 'cause nobody can overcome you.
Now, who exactly will you be overseeing in the millennium? Well, that is explained to us in Matthew chapter 25, verse 31 to 46, because in those verses, at the end of the tribulation, God is gonna separate the sheep from the goat, that is, the unrighteous Gentiles, the goats; from the righteous Gentiles, sheep. It says the unrighteous Gentiles coming out of the tribulation will be sent to eternal judgment; and the righteous Gentiles coming out of the tribulation, they're going to go into the millennium in their natural human bodies. So, there's gonna be a whole earth full of folk in natural bodies while you and I will be overseeing them in glorified bodies. So, in our glorified bodies, based on the positions that we have earned during our stay here in our natural bodies, will affect your assignment, then, in your glorified bodies over those who are in the millennium in their natural bodies, and I'll prove to you in a moment how those natural bodies will function, but of course, you and I are in a glorified body, and this will last for 1.000 years before we ever get to eternity.
So, one reason is that Jesus will rule through the saints from the capital of the world, Jerusalem, when he returns. There is a second reason why this will be paradise. The second reason you read in the first two verses of Revelation 20 because it says, "And Satan will be bound for 1.000 years". Satan will be bound so that he no longer is able to deceive the nations. Let me give you a little summary of satanic strategy. It exists today. That's why he has to be bound. And that is deception, that he will no longer deceive the nations anymore. The reason why we are messed up is 'cause we've been tricked. And because Jesus will rule with a rod of iron for 1.000 years, even if you wanna rebel, you won't be able to. You will not be allowed to rebel.
So, your rebellion, you better keep it to yourself because in the millennium with you and I as judges and in various relationships, we'll be co-heirs, the Bible says. We will be co-heirs with him. So, this will be the ultimate answer to the Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Earth will take on the look of heaven. So, let's get this straight. For 1.000 years, if you are a believer today, most of your time is going to be spent on earth, not in heaven. There will be an event that will lead into the millennium. The judgment separates your sheep and goats, but leading into that is going to be a wedding.
Look at chapter 19, verses 7 to 10. "Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to him, for the marriage of the lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, 'Right, blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the lamb.' And he said to me, 'These are true words of God.' Then I fell at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, 'Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and your brother, who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.'" So, everybody loves a wedding.
So, let me tell you about a wedding, because this wedding involves you 'cause you're the bride. See, the Bible calls the church the bride of Christ. So, God uses this terminology to express our relationship. Jesus is called the bridegroom, okay? So, there's gonna be a wedding. To appreciate this, you have to understand the oriental weddings. So, let me tell you the oriental weddings, and then how it applies to us, and then how that applies to the millennium. In biblical days, the wedding took on a number of different parts. The first aspect of a wedding in biblical times was the betrothal period. You and I would say "engagement," but there was a big difference between our engagement and the biblical times' engagement because the biblical time engagement was a legal contract. Then there was the marriage, okay?
That would lead to what we all are aware of, and that is the reception. You know what the reception is? It's a party. Jesus's reception is gonna last 1.000 years. They were being made ready for the marriage supper of the lamb. That's the reception. So, there's going to be a party with Jesus and his bride, and it is gonna happen on Earth even though you're in a glorified body, and for 1.000 years carrying out your responsibilities as Jesus's bride. You are going to be in a wedding reception called the marriage supper of the lamb, and you will be there based on the level of your reward. So, everybody won't party equally, and, in fact, the Scripture says some who are part of the wedding will be in outer darkness.
Well, when God plays your tape at the judgment seat of Christ, he's only gonna allow to stand what he can use what was done in his name for his glory. Everything else will be discarded, and based on what's left based on your tape will determine how much partying you get to do at the party or whether you just get to see other folk having fun who you didn't think had that much going for them, okay? So, that's the wedding. That's the party. That's the marriage supper of the lamb, which is the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. Now, what will this kingdom look like? What will this earthly rule, before we get to the eternal rule, what will this look like? What he's saying is the rule of God during this kingdom will be so comprehensive it will be unlike anything you've ever saw because even animals will not be able to display their nature of sin, not even animals, not snakes, not lions, not bears, why? Because it says the knowledge of God is going to rule all the creation.
Notice what you saw in the passage: a child. That's 'cause in the natural, life is going on. People are still getting married. People are still having babies, 'cause we're not in heaven yet. We're not in eternity yet. We're in the millennial kingdom on Earth, where human beings are still operating in their natural bodies. Look at one other passage: Isaiah 65. In Isaiah chapter 65, here's what we read. He says beginning in verse 17, "For behold I create a new heaven and a new earth, and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create. For behold I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness. I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people". 'Cause Jerusalem will be the center of the whole earth. "And there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping or the sound of crying. No longer will there be an infant who lives but a few days or an old man who does not live out his days, for the youth will die at the age of 100, and the one who does not reach the age of 100 will be thought accursed".
Let me pause right there. In other words, if you died 100, you died young 'cause you weren't doing right. So, what he says is, in the millennium, because it's lasting 1.000 years, if you die at 100... so we're not in heaven yet 'cause people are still dying. So, if you die at 100, they say you must've been judged for something. You must've done something wrong to die so early. So, you see, it's a whole different world order. How can folk live so long in their natural bodies? Because there's no sin. There is no allowed sin, no overt sin 'cause sin is what kills you young. The only reason that lifespan went down is because of the increase of sin, but notice what he says as he goes on here in chapter 65. He says in verse 21, "They will build houses and inhabit them. They will also plant vineyards and eat from their fruit. They will not build and another inhabit". Nobody's gonna take your house from you. "They will not plant and another eat; for as the lifetime of a tree, so will the days of my people be. My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands. They will not labor in vain or bear children for calamity". 'Cause they're bearing children in natural bodies.
"For they are the offspring of those blessed by the Lord and their descendants. 'It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will graze together. The lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent's food. They will do no evil or harm in all my holy mountain,' says the Lord". Utopia. Paradise. It says folks who go to work won't hate their jobs. They will not labor in vain. In other words, you're gonna be happy to go to work. That'll make you wanna go to the millennium right now. You're just looking forward to tomorrow morning. You can't wait, if you're living during this time, and we're in glorified bodies, so everything about us is a party because God is going to fulfill the destiny of man.
Psalm 2 talks about God was gonna rule through man. Psalm 8 talks about God's gonna rule through man. History cannot be completed until within history there is the rule of God through man. Jesus Christ, his glorified saints over mankind: That is the millennial kingdom. Ah, but Revelation 20, verse 7, says something very interesting. It says when the 1.000 years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations, which are in the four corners of the earth. So, history's not finished yet. After 1.000 years, Satan, who's been chained and not allowed to deceive the nations, will be released. Now why, if there has been no evil allowed to express itself? Because while there will be no evil in the millennium allowed to express itself, there will be evil in the hearts. So, there will be rebellious hearts that will not be free to express themselves. 'Cause if you express rebellion, at 100 years old, you died as accursed.
God's not gonna allow overt rebellion in the millennium, but there will be hearts of rebellion. So, Satan is going to be released to reveal those who have rejected God even in Utopia, and that shouldn't surprise us 'cause many of us have raised our kids in a very godly environment to watch them go left. "I didn't raise you like that, but you went left anyway". God's gonna give mankind a perfect environment, which shows that you don't need Satan to show how sinful you are 'cause Satan is gonna be bound and there's still gonna be sinful hearts. So, with that, Satan is gonna be allowed to reveal those who rejected God one final time before the White Throne Judgment, and the White Throne Judgment is to determine how much hell you get. The whole point of God telling us prophecy is for us to live now in light of then, to live now in light of the eternal future that we have, to make your decisions now in light of then, for the Bible says that everyone will stand before the Lord and you must give an account.
You won't have a choice. You don't get to say, "I'm tired up". You will be forced into his presence to give an account for your appreciation of the free gift of salvation, which he will never take away. He'll never take away the free gift of salvation, but he will take away rewards, and the Bible says the pain you will feel when he takes away your reward, he describes it as weeping and gnashing of teeth. That means profound regret that, "I had no time for the Lord". The disciples said, "Teach us how to pray". "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come," okay? And then he said, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," but he told them to pray that now. So, let me give you some news. God wants to give you some level of kingdom experience before he brings in his kingdom worldwide. "Thy kingdom come". "But how do I get that kingdom down here so I can taste it"? He tells you, "Thy will be done".
You must live for the will of God in order to taste the kingdom of God. If you're not living for the will of God, God's not gonna let you taste something that you have no interest in, but there are some here who've had a taste. We got a few here. You did taste it. That's why the Bible says taste and see that the Lord is good. He ain't gonna give you all of it right now, but he'll put a little something, something on it. Put a little sugar on it, and let you go, mmm, mmm, "Where are they cooking this? Where are they baking this"? It's all up in the kingdom, but he'll give you a taste now if you are committed to his will. Oh, but I gotta conclude with the rest of the story because in this world and in this life, some of the tasting comes through the crucible of suffering.
Now, I do not want to lie to you. The Bible says all those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. It's not gonna be all good all the time if you're a serious Christian, but here's what I will tell you. Whenever you watch the Super Bowl and the winning team is on the field, there's a party. They're celebrating, they're hugging, they're crying, they're rejoicing, they're grabbing their families, but look real close. Some of them got bloody arms. Some of them got torn jerseys. All of them got dirty jerseys. In other words, they done been through something. For three hours, they done been through something. They done been through some pains. They've been hit. They've been tackled. They've been blocked. They done been through, yeah, there was some good stuff, but there may have been some fumbles, some drop passes, and some offsides.
So, they made some mistakes. They've been hurt along the way by other folk who were trying to hurt them. They have been through something, but if you ask them at the end of the game, Was it worth it even though they had been through something? They will tell you, "Yeah, 'cause I got a Super Bowl ring, I got a trophy, and I'm going to Disneyland". So, you hang in there, and you hang in there 'cause God has got a ring for your finger. He's got a trophy for your commitment as you taste of the kingdom that is to come.