“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
This week while studying through the book of Matthew and reading two commentaries on Matthew, one by H.A. Ironside and another by John Walvoord, I came to understand some things about the Millennial kingdom that I did not see before. As well, I had a lovely Christian lady ask me about the Millennial Kingdom, as she had heard another teach on it and she did not even know that there was one to come. I had to ask myself how many others had not heard of the Millennial Kingdom either; and so, this week, we will explore this utopia that Jesus will bring in.
It is fitting that we take a look at this as we are remembering the invasion of Europe by the Allied Forces on June 6th, 1944. That generation of young men was brought up thinking that WW1 was the war to end all wars, but here just 25 years later, they were engaged in an even bigger war. One that would cost more than 50,000,000 lives.
I watched the opening of the movie Saving Private Ryan last evening, and I was astonished again by how many men never even got out of the boats that landed on those beaches. The carnage was heart- wrenching, but these men did what was necessary to ensure the freedom of Europe and the Pacific nations and the whole world.
Since that time, man has been trying to build a world without war. This has never been done, not for one second. By 1953, just 10 years after WW2, the US was waging war in the Korean peninsula; a decade later in Vietnam; then the Cold War; the short skirmish in Grenada; then Somalia (Blackhawk Down); then the US was at war in Kuwait. In the early 2000s, they were in Iraq and Afghanistan; and now they are still warring in the Middle East and seem poised to go to war with Iran if need be.
Even the United Nations has soldiers, called Peace Keepers, but soldiers with weapons nonetheless. Nations are still rising against nations, and the perceived peace is fragile at best in most nations.
Folks, the idea of a Utopia without Jesus is a myth. If we do not get this, then the importance of the Millennial Kingdom will be lost. Jesus will do in a moment what man has been trying to do for more than 2,000 years – bring in peace. We must grasp the hopelessness of our situation if we are to appreciate what Jesus will do, and in so doing, create in us a real hope for His return. This hope will frame how we live and focus our lives so that we are ready, upon the event of His return, to serve in His new Kingdom.
Jesus’ First Coming, Luke 4:18
Jesus came to offer this Millennial kingdom to the Jews at His first appearance when He was born, lived and grew up among them. We find in Luke 4:18 a fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah 61:1,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”
If you take the time to read the prophecy beginning in Isaiah 60, you will see that this is the promised Millennial kingdom that Jesus was here offering the Jews when He walked the earth. But the nation rejected Him, not once but twice. How did they reject Him twice, you ask? Let me show you.
If you take the time to read the account of Jesus birth in Matthew, you will see that the Magi came looking for him at Herod’s home in Matthew 2. In verse 4, Herod calls the Jewish religious leaders, the chief priests, and the scribes. They, in Matthew 2:5, point out that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem in accordance with Micah 5:2,
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
But notice that the chief priests and the scribes made no effort to go and find Him. The Magi went and worshipped Him. The Gentiles did that, not the Jews. A generation later when Jesus is about 30 years old and doing His ministry, He is again rejected by the chief priests and scribes; they call Him Beelzebub and eventually call for His execution at the hands of the Roman government. Two generations rejecting their Messiah, one out of apathy the other out of hatred. The Jews chose to stay under the rule of Rome rather than submit to their King and humble themselves.
As we learn in Daniel 9, they will still be looking to Rome for peace when the Anti-Christ comes, and they will accept him as their messiah and make an agreement with him. There are none so blind as those that choose not to see.
Sadly, we live in the same time. We are surrounded by some of the most educated people to ever walk the planet, and yet there is ever-growing doubt about the Creation and the Creator. When we see the complexity of the human body, or just parts of it like the eye, it should humble us and drive us to our knees before the Holy, Loving, Powerful God; but many, like the first generation of Jews, are apathetic, and the others are hostile rejectors of Jesus. The same rejection that Jesus felt from His own people 2,000 years ago.
Envoys of the Kingdom, Matthew 10:5-15
Jesus sent out the disciples in Matthew 10, and he gives them the instruction to avoid the Gentiles, but to go to the “lost sheep of Israel.”
“These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: ‘Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
The kingdom of Heaven is at hand; this was John the Baptist’s message, the message that Jesus first spoke, and this was the message to the Jews. Right here, right now, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. But they rejected the message and the messengers. What was it that Jesus was offering the nation of Israel? We find the answer in Isaiah 2:2-4,
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: 4 and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Notice that ‘beating the swords into plowshares’ comes after Jesus teaches the people His ways and when He judges the nations, settling their disputes. Then the people will stop learning war. Jesus was offering to Israel what the world has been longing for since the end of WW1; they have longed for the end of war.
At the UN building there is a partial quote from Isaiah 2. They have just a part of verse 4 about the swords and plowshares; they do not want to let the world know that it is only in, through, and by Jesus and His judgments that these things can happen. They want a world without war, but without the Prince of Peace.
Jesus offered this world, the Kingdom of Heaven, to the nation of Israel, and they rejected Him. Our current world longs for this heaven that Jesus offered the Jews, but not as long as Jesus comes with it.
The Reign of Our Great Lord and King, Isaiah 11
Take the time to read the chapter for yourself. What a time this will be! The joy, the glory, the way that life was supposed to be before the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Here is an excerpt from Isaiah 11: 6-9,
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
‘The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
‘The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
‘They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
Oh, what we have missed because the Jews rejected their Messiah! Think of the loss of life in the various wars over the last 2,000 years. Think of the way that our world has immersed itself in denying the Lord. But, had the Jews accepted Jesus’ offer, there would be a sea of knowledge around us. He would be on every NEWS outlet; the nations would travel to see Him and know him; they would seek His advice for every human dispute; and we would have the Utopia that everyone wants. But it only comes with Jesus and with Him only.
The Millennial kingdom will give us a 1,000-year glimpse of what life could have been like without the fall of man. A view of what life would be like if the Beatitudes and not the Law were the foundations of human interactions. A view of life where death was rare and no one had to fear getting old.
Isaiah 65:20, “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.”
Oh, what a time it will be! A time when Jesus is King, and the kingdom of Heaven – once rejected by the Jews – will be shown to the whole world. We in the New Testament church will serve in the Kingdom as priests and kings. I am not sure how the hiring goes just yet. But Revelation 1:4-6,
“John, to the seven churches which are in Asia:
“Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
The Kingdom twice rejected by the Jews is at hand once again, and we are the heralds, the watchmen on the walls, telling the world, “Jesus is coming; be ready. Judgement is coming; be ready. Eternity is at hand; be ready.”
“Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.”