By William R. Newell
Part One: Judgment
The Thousand Years’ Reign
I. What the Thousand Years’ Reign Is
The thousand years’ reign is the direct administration of divine government on earth for one thousand years by our Lord and His saints. Its earthly center will be Jerusalem and the nation Israel, though Christ and His saints will rule in heavenly resurrection bodies in the New Jerusalem and will take the place now occupied by angels (Hebrews 2:5-8). Satan, as we have seen, will be in the abyss during the thousand years; and his “host of the high ones on high” will be “prisoners gathered in the pit, and shut up in the prison” during that time (Isaiah 24:21-23).
Just as the affairs of the world at present are directly, though unconsciously, controlled by Satan and his host (under the permission of God, but interfered with from time to time by holy angels sent of God, as in Daniel 10), so Christ and His saints will rule during the thou- sand years; generally, doubtless, invisible to the eyes of men whom they control. Yet the glory of the Lord will be seen by all flesh (Isaiah 40:5) and most wondrously and constantly over the temple at Jerusalem (Isaiah 4:5).
II. Object of the Thousand Years’ Reign
1. Looked at from, God the Father’s side:
“Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” “Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy foot-stool. Jehovah will send forth the sceptre of thy strength out of Zion: Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies” (Psalms 2 and 110). It will be God’s setting His King (Christ) upon His holy hill of Zion, in restored Jerusalem.
Men claim that they are seeking, evermore, a “perfect form of government”; but that they are not at all seeking such a government, but that they actually hate it, will be evidenced by their instant revolt to Satan’s banner when he is loosed for a “little season” after the Millennium. For we shall find the hordes of mankind rushing up to overthrow the righteous and benevolent reign of Christ at Jerusalem! The deepest sentiment of the natural heart is enmity against God; and this fact God will have brought out so thoroughly that there will never be a question again concerning the wisdom of taking governmental affairs out of unregenerate man’s hands, and placing them absolutely in Christ’s, who shares it with His saints.
The Millennium will, of course, be a mixed state of things, in that, although curtailed greatly, both sin and death will be on earth (Isaiah 65:20).
2. Looked at from Christ’s side:
3. Looked at from the saints’ side:
4. Looked at from the side of the nations, the peoples of the earth:
For example, see the King coming (Psalm 45) with His Bride and His mighty ones; the remnant of Israel trusting through all the upheavals of mountains, islands, and seas of the tribulation time until the King comes to make “wars to cease” (Psalm 46); the jubilation of Israel over the arrival of the “great King over all the earth” to whom “the princes of the peoples are gathered together to be the people of the God of Abraham” (Psalm 47); and the glorious establishment of the temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem delighted in by Israel, and wondered at by the nations (Psalm 48). (Compare Isaiah 2:2-4.)
5. Looked at from the side of “creation”:
6. The Millennium will be the time predicted by our Lord in Matthew 5:18: “Till heaven and earth pass away, (which they do at the end of the 1000 years) one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.” All those infinitely wise, just, and kind provisions set forth in the ordinances, statutes, precepts, and judgments of the law given by Moses, will be put into effect. Israel, then an “all righteous” nation (Isaiah 60:21), will have the law in their hearts—loving it, and in their minds—remembering it.
III. The Order of the Thousand Years
1. Christ will be here in person—King over all the earth. He will sit “a priest upon his throne” (Zechariah 6:13). This is the fulfilment of the Melchizedek priesthood. Howbeit, it must be remembered that our Lord has a glorified body, while the saved remnant of Israel, and also, as I see it, the faithful Israelites raised when our Lord returns, will all have flesh and blood bodies—as earthly people.
2. While Christ Himself, as Israel’s Messiah, will thus be King over all the earth, and be seen “in his beauty” at Jerusalem in the millennial temple (Isaiah 33:17, 22), yet it will be on the Sabbaths (after the “six working days”) and on special feast days that He will thus be seen by Israel (Ezekiel 43:7; 44:2; 46:1-3): but David himself will be the prince whom God will raise up from the dead for this high honor (Ezekiel 37:24, 25; 34:23, 24; Jeremiah 30:9; Hosea 3:5). We must not confuse in our minds this situation. We must believe the plain words of God. David is not the Son of David. Christ, as Son of David, will be King; and David, His father after the flesh, will be prince, during the Millennium. See Ezekiel 46:4-12—the special worship and walk of the prince.
3. The Church will reign with Christ in glorified bodies like His (1 Corinthians 6:2, 3). The Church, evidently, is the first class of the three mentioned in Revelation 20:4: “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them.” There is no account of resurrection; for they were caught up at the end of chapter 3 of Revelation. (We do not believe that they are the twenty-four elders who are seen only in connection with the heavenly throne and the four living ones.) It will be remembered that the twelve apostles will sit on twelve thrones “judging” the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:28, 29). They will, it seems, in a beautiful way, be the connecting link between the heavenly Church and the earthly Israel!
The Church, in heavenly bodies (real bodies, of course, like Christ’s), will not interfere with the earthly order of Israel any more than God’s angels interfered with the Davidic kingdom in former days. Judgment, and not the mere execution of it, will belong to—be “given to”—the Church.
4. The second class seen in Revelation 20:4, is, “the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God.” These are, evidently, the martyrs under the fifth seal of Revelation 6:9. They are not the Church. They are, we believe, the martyrs coming after the rapture of the Church and before the class last noticed. Also, the word “beheaded” indicates the revival of the Roman Empire method of execution. These martyrs now receive their resurrection bodies, for the words “they live,”119 must refer to bodily
5. The third class who reign with Christ are “such as worshipped not the beast,” which plainly identifies them as saints from The Great Tribulation time. They either pass through those awful three and one-half years, or are martyred. They receive resurrection bodies now to reign with Christ the thousand years.
Thus we are prepared for the great unfolding of verse 5: “The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished.” “The rest of the dead” are the lost, whose spirits are imprisoned in Hades, in the earth’s center, till after the thousand years.
IV. The First Resurrection
1. We have been constantly told by our Lord and His apostles, as well as in Daniel 12, that there will be two resurrections of absolutely different character—one “of the just,” and the other “of the unjust.” Unto this glorious consummation—this “out-resurrection from among the dead”—Paul’s whole spirit was eagerly, striving. And it should be the daily, hourly anticipation of every Christian heart (Philippians 3:8-11).
2. Those partaking in the first resurrection are called “blessed”—which denotes their state of grace from God; and also “holy”—which sets forth their separate character and walk when on earth. Over such, the second death is declared to have no authority (exousia). The believer is not subject to judgment in the sense of endangering his eternity (John 5:24 and 3:18).
Their reign partakes of the Melchizedek character of Christ’s throne. The expression “of God and of Christ” is remarkable. Perhaps light is shed upon it by Revelation 1:6: “He (Christ) made us a kingdom, priests unto his God and Father.” It is the business of priests to carry on for others “the things pertaining to God” (Hebrews 2:17 and 5:1). This opens a wonderful subject!
“Over the breadth of the earth” the Satan-led hosts come against “the camp of the saints” (the Church above Jerusalem) and the beloved city—Jerusalem itself.
Now at last, the patience of God being exhausted, and the malignity of man fully demonstrated, fire from God descends and devours earth’s wicked hosts: thus ending forever the sinning human race!
Then we see the execution of the long prophesied doom of the damned. Antichrist and his lieutenant will have been in this fearful literal lake of fire and brimstone alive (i.e. in a human body) for 1,000 years (Revelation 19:20). They are seen, yet in torment. Now the Devil, the great deceiver, is cast into this same literal lake, into that “eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels,” of which our Lord warned in Matthew 25:41.
It is, therefore, most fitting, indeed necessary, that this revelation of the appalling doom of Satan and his two chief human agents should immediately precede the account of the casting into that same lake of fire of those responsible creatures who reject their God—of all choosing sin as their portion.
119 Alford truly says, “If, in a passage where two resurrections are mentioned—where certain souls lived, at first, and the ‘rest of the dead’ lived only at the end of a specified period, after that first—the ‘first resurrection’ may be understood to mean a ‘spiritual’ rising with Christ, while the second means a literal rising from the grave, then there is an end of all significance in language, and Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to anything. If the first resurrection is spiritual, then so is the second,—but if the second is literal, then so is the first, which, with the whole primitive church, I do maintain.”
Stuart says, “‘They lived’ means they revived, came to life, returned to a life like the former one, vie., a return to a union of soul and body.”