I was searching the internet for information on the 1,000 years mentioned in Revelation 20 when I came across your website. I read your article, "The Seventh Millennium," and I have some questions. You claim that Jesus will not touch the Earth at the Second Coming.
My church teaches that Jesus will touch the Earth and bind up the devil in the abyss and rule over the nations with "a rod of iron." With the devil locked up, there will be a thousand years of peace and happiness on Earth! During this time, many people will learn about Jesus and receive salvation.
Then, at the end of the thousand years, the devil will be released to deceive the nations once again. In fact, the devil will lead Gog and Magog against the Holy City! If, as you claim, Jesus takes the saints to Heaven at the Second Coming, how can Jesus rule the nations with an iron scepter? What would be the point of putting the devil in the abyss if Earth is going to be left desolate? How does Gog and Magog fit into your scenario?
Thank you for your e-mail. I am delighted that you found our website and I hope you will visit it often to examine the 175+ articles available there for study. Before I respond to your questions, you should be aware that a proper understanding of "the end" of sin's drama requires a proper understanding of several prerequisites.
For example, everyone knows that Algebra is a prerequisite for Calculus, but few people realize that the final chapters in Revelation are like Calculus! In other words, several crucial themes dovetail into the final millennium* and each theme could fill a book. Since your questions are somewhat involved, and this response has to be short, I hope you will find my response helpful.
* Note: The Latin word for one thousand is "milli," as in millimeter. Sometimes, I call the thousand years in Revelation 20 the "millennium," even though the word "millennium" is not in the Bible. This is no different than calling the days of the week by their Roman names. For example, the word "Sunday" is not in the Bible, but we understand that Sunday and the first day of the week are the same day.
1. The saints will leave Earth and all of the wicked will be slain at the Second Coming.
For reasons beyond the scope of this article, the Bible teaches that death is really soul sleep. In other words, when a person dies, he or she is not conscious. There is no conscious awareness after death until a resurrection occurs. This means the dead are neither in Heaven or Hell. They are "asleep" in their graves. (Please see the December 2007 Wake Up Report!, "Will Sinners Burn in Hell for Eternity?")
Soul sleep is a very important topic because the "sleeping souls" of the righteous will be awakened at the Second Coming. The Bible indicates there are two corporate resurrections – one for the righteous and one for the wicked. The righteous dead are resurrected at the beginning of the millennium (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55; Revelation 20:6) and the wicked dead will be resurrected at the end of the millennium. (John 5:28, 29; Revelation 20:5)
Jesus said, "And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:39,40, underlines mine)
An angel told Daniel, "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake [at the Second Coming]: some [the dead in Christ] to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt [those who crucified Jesus – Revelation 1:7; Matthew 26:64]. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days. ‘As for you [Daniel], go your way till the end [of your life]. You will rest [die], and then at the end of the [1,335] days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.’" (Daniel 12:2, 12,13, underlines and insertions mine)
Paul wrote, "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope [of the resurrection]. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring [people to life just as He did] with Jesus [there is no need to endlessly grieve for] those who have fallen asleep in him.
According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left [on Earth] till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep [that is, the living will not go to Heaven before the dead are resurrected].
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left [on Earth] will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thessalonians 4:12-17, underlines and insertions mine)
These texts indicate there will be a resurrection of the righteous dead at the Second Coming. The "dead in Christ" are not spirits floating around on clouds waiting to get their previous bodies. When Jesus appears at the Second Coming, He will speak the command and "the dead in Christ" will come to life again!
They will be given flawless bodies – no longer subject to the curse of sin. As they ascend toward Heaven, Jesus will call to the righteous living, "Come up here!" Paul says that together, the dead and the living will meet the Lord in the air. – Why are they meeting the Lord in the air? If you will remember, a few days before ascending to Heaven, Jesus said, "In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
And if I go [there – to the New Jerusalem] and prepare a place for you, I will come back [to Earth] and take you to be with me that you also may be [in my Father’s house] where I am." (John 14:2,3, underline and insertions mine)
After Jesus lifts the saints from Earth, He will destroy the wicked in two ways. First, Lucifer’s government and Lucifer’s persona* will be thrown alive into a lake of burning sulphur. ". . . The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur." (Revelation 19:20)
* Note: For reasons beyond the scope of this article, the coming Antichrist is Lucifer. He and his angels will be allowed to come out of the spirit realm (the abyss) in the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:1-11) and they will assume physical bodies that we can see and they will physically appear before mankind.At the Second Coming, Jesus will destroy the "physical" bodies which Lucifer and his angels "used." Jesus removes their physical bodies and returns Lucifer and his angels back into the spirit realm (the abyss) from where they came.
The wicked who are alive at the Second Coming will be destroyed by a command that comes out of Jesus’ mouth: "The rest of them [the wicked] were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse [Jesus speaks the wicked to death with a command that is described as a ‘sword’ that comes out of His mouth], and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh." (Revelation 19:21, explanation and insertion mine)
2. Why does Jesus destroy all of the wicked at the Second Coming?
During the Great Tribulation, the gospel of Jesus Christ will be preached throughout the world by God’s servants, the 144,000. The 144,000 will present "the testimony of Jesus" to every person. (Matthew 24:14, Revelation 12:17) This means that everyone who is alive on Earth will be confronted and tested with the truth about Jesus Christ. Jesus does this to determine who will obey and follow Him. Babylon will persecute everyone who chooses to obey Jesus. This means that all middle ground will be eliminated.
There will be some people who receive the gospel of Jesus and be saved, but the rest of mankind will commit the unpardonable sin to avoid persecution. The unpardonable sin is rebellion against the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 12:31,32) In other words, wicked people will reject the gospel of Jesus (as they did in Noah’s day) and they will be destroyed (as they were in Noah’s day). Once a wicked person commits the unpardonable sin, he cannot repent – even if he had a thousand years to repent!
When the unpardonable sin is committed, the Holy Spirit abandons a person when it becomes clear that person will not surrender to the authority of the Spirit. Once the Holy Spirit leaves, a person cannot repent of his or her sins. He or she may lament the penalty or consequences that follow (like the hand caught in the cookie jar), but honest repentance (and the prerequisite reformation) is impossible without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
The critical point so many people miss is this: When Jesus appears at the Second Coming, everyone will have been tested and Jesus will have passed eternal judgment on every person. – Jesus said, "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." (Revelation 22:12, underline mine)
This means that at the Second Coming, Jesus will grant the faithful eternal life and He will destroy the wicked. There is no second chance for salvation once the judgment process of Christ ends. (2 Corinthians 5:10; Ecclesiastes 12:13,14) The bottom line is this: There is no salvation after the Second Coming because every living person will have heard the gospel and all decisions will have been made.
3. After calling the righteous away from Earth and killing the wicked, Jesus puts Lucifer and his angels back in the abyss so that Earth can rest during its Sabbath millennium.
At this time, the world will be left desolate and the devil is returned to the abyss and "chained" to this Earth for 1,000 years so that he cannot bother anyone in the universe. Jesus gives the devil and his angels 1,000 years to "thoughtfully" consider their actions and upcoming destruction. Meanwhile, a very important process will be transpiring in Heaven.
As the saints reign with Jesus, they will also reign as judges with Jesus. – The saints will judge the wicked (in many cases, the saints will judge the very people who tortured and killed them). This particular process of judging the wicked is not for the purpose of determining eternal life (that issue was decided by Jesus Himself before the Second Coming), but for the purpose of restitution.
God’s justice demands that restitution be extracted from each wicked person who refused to make restitution for the wrongs committed in life. The golden rule is God’s eternal rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – because God will see to it that you suffer as you caused others to suffer.
(Romans 12:19, Hebrews 10:30, Revelation 2:23, 18:6) In other words, during the 1,000 years, the saints will determine the amount of pain each wicked person and each wicked angel must suffer in the lake of fire. (1 Corinthians 6:2,3) Some people will burn for a long time and some people will burn for a short time.
4. When the thousand years are over, the Holy City, New Jerusalem, will descend from Heaven with the saints safe inside.
When we add up everything written in the Bible about time, the 1,000 years in Revelation 20 will be a Sabbath rest for Earth, the seventh millennium. The land itself will "rest" from the works of sin for one thousand years. At the end of the thousand years, the Holy City, with all of the saints inside, will descend to Earth.
The wicked dead (who have remained in their graves) will then be resurrected to stand before the Great White Throne of Jesus. Jesus resurrects the wicked for two reasons. First, He wants all the wicked to understand why He could not save them. Jesus will give them an unvarnished review of their lives’ actions and decisions.
At the end of the presentation, everyone will admit that His judgment is righteous and true. Even though every knee will bow before Jesus, this does not mean the wicked are repentant for their sins – remember, they have committed the unpardonable sin. After they realize their impending doom, the devil is released from the abyss (the spirit realm). The devil will organize the wicked from all nations, encouraging them to attack the Holy City – he deceives the wicked into thinking that they can save themselves by destroying God.
At this time, fire will fall from Heaven and the extraction of restitution (which the wicked had been unwilling to pay during their lifetime) will begin. Ultimately, after restitution has been paid in full, God annihilates the wicked and they become ashes. Sin is no more. Jesus will create a new Heaven and a new Earth. (Revelation 21:1-4)
5. Who is Gog and Magog?
To analyze this topic, we need to back up to the time when the 1,000 years have ended. "When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison [the abyss] and will go out to deceive the [wicked from all] nations in the four corners of the earth – Gog and Magog – to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves [New Jerusalem]. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them." (Revelation 20:7-9, underline and insertions mine)
The identity of Gog who lives in the land of Magog is a mystery to many people. However, "Gog" is nothing more than another title given to Lucifer in Ezekiel 38 and Magog is his territory in "the far north." In a nutshell, this is the story. Lucifer is called "the king of Babylon" in Isaiah 14 and "the king of Tyre" in Ezekiel 28 because the devil is "the prince of this world."
In other words, the Bible gives Lucifer different names to help us understand this invisible foe. Actually, Lucifer was the real king of Tyre and the real king of Babylon. It is Lucifer who brings civilizations to their end. He understands God’s full cup principle very well and this is why he incites sin and rebellion to reach such a degree of decadence that God has no choice but to destroy nations that go past the point of return.
Under the Old Covenant ("Plan A"), Lucifer (as the Antichrist) would have been visibly "exposed" in a prophetic sequence of events that is something like his visible exposure under the New Covenant ("Plan B"). The physical appearing of the devil is a very serious topic and it deserves careful study. Under the Old Covenant ("Plan A"), Lucifer (Gog) would have come against the city of Jerusalem with a horde of nations for the purpose of destroying God and His people.
John’s reference to "Gog and Magog" in Revelation 20 indicates that Lucifer’s hatred for God remains – even after a thousand years of living in the abyss! In other words, Lucifer and his angels cannot repent because they have committed the unpardonable sin. Therefore, the level of hatred for God and His people has not changed.
At the end of the 1,000 years, the devil (the Anti-Christ) will rally the wicked from all nations through deceit, causing them to think that they can kill Christ and take His city. However, Jesus rules the nations with an iron scepter and His sovereign rulership cannot be broken. As billions of wicked people rush upon New Jerusalem to destroy Jesus and His kingdom, fire falls from Heaven and the nations of Earth are destroyed.
Warring against Christ’s authority is always the destiny of the carnal nature – the carnal nature is always hostile toward God’s authority. (Romans 8:5-7) Lucifer became a carnal being when he allowed jealousy toward Christ to consume him. His hatred for Jesus led him to deceive one-third of the angels of Heaven with clever lies. His hatred for Jesus will never change, because he has committed the unpardonable sin. Isn’t it ironic that Lucifer meets his end doing the same thing he did in the beginning – but this time, his target will be wicked human beings who, like him, have committed the unpardonable sin?
I hope this helps!