THE KINGDOM AGE
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The return of the Lord Jesus to the earth will mark the end of the Church Age and the beginning of the Kingdom Age. The Kingdom Age often is referred to as the Millennium. The Bible says it will be a thousand years in length, which probably will be the case, although the number 1,000 may be symbolic.
First there will be the Battle of Armageddon, when Christ and His armies destroy the armies of Antichrist. At that time the demons and fallen angels who fought on the side of Antichrist will be dispatched to suitable places of incarceration in the spirit world. Antichrist and the False Prophet will be sent into the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. Satan will be thrown into the bottomless pit.
Now comes the task of ridding the earth of wicked people and the destruction of the Antichrist institutions. The task of removing wickedness will be accomplished by the Lord Jesus and the armies of saints and angels. This battle is described in the second chapter of the Book of Job.
As soon as the earth has been cleansed, the Lord Jesus will send out His kings to govern the various areas of the earth. I think huge areas, such as the United States, China, and Russia will be divided into smaller nations. We can see in the United States today the problem when too many people are under one government. It is impossible to enforce righteousness because of the competition within the nation.
The kings who will govern the earth will be the members of the Royal Priesthood who returned with the Lord. Each of these has been trained in righteousness by the Lord. Each is a rod of iron righteousness. God no longer will have nations of people who behave unrighteously. Unrighteous behavior is an abomination to God. His will is the only valid will in His universe.
People will be compelled to be obedient to God, to behave righteously.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery. (Psalms 2:8,9)
To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—"He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery"—just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)
"He will dash them to pieces like pottery." Since the term "millennium" is used today to suggest "peace," which does not seem to fit the expression "dash them to pieces," I prefer the term "Kingdom Age."
Can't you just imagine the people of the United States submitting to the rule of Christ and His saints! They will be screaming for their lawyers, claiming their rights are being violated.
Nonetheless, this government will continue for a thousand years. At the end of that time, Satan will be released from the Bottomless Pit and go forth throughout the earth, seducing people so they rebel against Christ and His saints. By this time God has had enough resistance to His rule. He will send down fire and consume the rebels.
After that the present sky and earth will pass away and the final judgment of mankind shall take place. The final judgment is one part of the Judgment Seat of Christ; for all authority of judgment has been given to Christ and His saints.
Sometimes people ask, "Why is the coming of the new world of righteousness delayed for a thousand years? Why doesn't God bring in the new world when Jesus returns?"
If my understanding is correct, there are two reasons.
The first is that as many people as possible will be reconciled to God during that period—those who are living on the earth under the rulership of Christ and His saints, and those who are in the spirit world.
It may be true that we always have thought that once we die and enter the spirit world we are what we are and it never can be changed.
I agree that death does not change us. It is true also that if we have refused to obey Christ here, when He is presented to us, we will not be given another chance. We will be sent into the Land of Darkness.
But most people who have lived on the earth have never heard of Christ. As I see it, during the thousand years they will be taught the Bible and given a chance to become acquainted with Christ.
Everyone will be forced to obey Christ after He returns.
There are numerous people today who will receive Jesus as their personal Savior. There are not that many who will receive Jesus as their personal Lord. But after He returns, every person on earth and in the spirit world will be compelled to obey Christ. Those who refuse will never be permitted to enter the new world of righteousness. Christ is God's King, and He is to be obeyed strictly and without question.
So the first reason for the thousand-year delay is to give everyone a chance to be reconciled to God through Christ. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement. It has begun in our day and it will continue until the time of the last judgment–that is to say, throughout the entire thousand-year Kingdom Age.
The second reason for the thousand-year delay is to give God's elect, His Church, an opportunity to come to maturity in Christ.
The Christian Church is the Royal Priesthood. Their destiny is to govern the new creation of God for eternity. The problem is, most of the members of the Church, although they have been called, are neither chosen for their consecration to Christ. Neither have they been proven faithful during difficult trials.
Down through the history of man there have been people who have met God's criteria for His governing priesthood. They are only a small fraction of the religious people. Today it can be seen that only a small part of each church could be considered chosen and faithful.
However, every called person is in the new Jerusalem in Heaven at the present time; although there are some who also are still living on the earth. The majority of these are not nearly ready to see God's Face and to govern the new world with Christ.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, (Hebrews 12:22)
If my understanding is correct, the purpose of the thousand years is to give the weaker members of the Church an opportunity to grow to maturity.
This does not mean they were careless in their commitment to Christ while on the earth, and now they are going to be given a second chance. There are no second chances. It indicates merely that for one reason or another, they have not had an opportunity to come to maturity in Christ.
It may be true that some never had had the opportunity to know Christ before they died. People are judged only on the basis of their opportunities. This is why the writer of Hebrews says if a person knowingly and willfully has turned away from Christ, he or she cannot be renewed to repentance.
Christ alone knows when such is the case with someone. It is enough for us to know that when we disobey Christ we will receive severe punishment in this world or the next, or in both.
There is a passage in the Song of Solomon that speaks of immature members of the elect being ministered to by stronger members of the Body of Christ.
We have a young sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar. (Song of Solomon 8:8,9)
It is my point of view that the firstfruits of the Royal Priesthood, who will be ruling on the earth, will have the opportunity to pass into the heavenly Jerusalem and minister to the less mature saints until they reach a level of maturity that will enable them to serve successfully as the representatives of Christ on the new earth.
Notice if you will the following passage:
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
The Body of Christ may be built up.
Until we all reach unity in the faith.
Until we are reach unity in the knowledge of the Son of God.
Until we all become mature.
Until we all attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
You know, because Paul stressed that the gifts and ministries of the Body of Christ will function until we all attain to maturity as measured by the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, we could say that this is an admirable goal that few if any of us really reach.
However, the Scripture does not admit to this interpretation. The Scripture states that the ministries and gifts given to the Body of Christ shall operate until we all, every member of the elect, attain to maturity.
Have I gone outside the passage by saying this?
The ministries and gifts will operate until every member of God's elect has attained to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. This is what God has said through the Apostle Paul. Have you ever heard of God failing to meet His stated goals? Neither have I.
Since we know that this level of maturity never has been attained to on the earth except by a relative handful of believers, we are forced to conclude, I think, that the gifts and ministries of the Body of Christ continue to operate after we die.
This has to be true. Today the Spirit of God is moving past Pentecost to the spiritual fulfillments of the last three feasts of the Lord: the Blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the feast of Tabernacles.
At the present time, most of the Pentecostal people that I have known appear to believe nothing of spiritual significance will follow the Pentecostal experience except an unscriptural rapture.
If there is going to be a Bride without sport or wrinkle, and it is going to include all of God's elect, then most of the ministry will have to be conducted in the spirit world, because that is where most of the saints are.
The is no scriptural basis for the notion that by dying we suddenly will come to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. The idea is ridiculous. Dying physically does not bring about spiritual maturity.
It seems more reasonable that the elect in the spirit world are marching along with us, and are learning from what the Spirit is doing in the churches of today as well as from the people and angels who are instructing them in the spirit world. I cannot see how it could be otherwise if they are going to be made perfect together with us.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39,40)
God's true people are one, whether living on the earth or in the spirit world. Obviously the majority are in the spirit world and they are being judged and are growing along with us.
For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:6)
Such is the second reason for the thousand-year delay after Jesus returns.
While the nations on the earth are being taught righteousness by the Lord's brothers, and God's elect are coming to maturity in the heavenly Jerusalem, there is a thousand years of peace on the earth, while Christ and His saints govern the nations of the earth.
It is my understanding that the eleventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah is speaking of the Kingdom Age.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
The unscriptural doctrine of the rapture has done away with our true hope, which is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
As I have written so many times, all of God' family are elect. Those who demonstrate an unusual loyalty to the Lord Jesus pass from the ranks of the elect into the ranks of the chosen. Then the chosen are brought through numerous testings. If they stay true, they pass into the ranks of the faithful. These compose the Royal Priesthood.
When Jesus appears, He will resurrect the bodies of the Royal Priesthood and then will catch them up to meet Him, the Commander-in Chief, in the air.
Then the vials of wrath will be poured out on the earth.
Next Christ and His army of saints and angels will descend and destroy the armies of Antichrist.
There will be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit prior to this, in the midst of great trouble. Out from this revival will come the two witnesses.
When the witness of the coming of the Kingdom has been borne to every nation of the earth to God's satisfaction, God will lifts the anointing from the witnesses. There will be a period during which Antichrist is given great authority, reaching up to Heaven, and will tear down many of those who have been in Christ at God's right hand.
Suddenly Christ shall appear with His saints, and the end of the Church Age will be here, to be followed by the Kingdom Age.
Most of us Christians in America at this time are soft, indulgent toward our children. We have been given a short period of time to prepare ourselves for the Divine judgment that already has come upon our country.
As I said, when the trouble comes, there will be an outpouring of God's Spirit. The accompanying suffering will not be an easy time for our flesh, but it will help us prepare ourselves for our Lord's coming.
If we will draw close to Jesus now we will save ourselves and our loved ones.
But if not, that day will catch us unprepared. Then we will rush about in panic, being of little use to our loved ones and the unsaved community.
Let us apply ourselves today to seeking the Lord. Wonderful days are ahead of us. Christ has kept the good wine until now.
But they also are days of judgment and danger. We can through Christ overcome the problems in the world until we are able to stand in victory before the Son of Man. But it will take all the determination we can muster to do so.