Many contemporary theologians teach that Jesus will reign in a temporal kingdom here on earth for 1000 years, which will occur between the first resurrection of the saints and the second resurrection of the wicked. They say that Christ’s “eternal kingdom” will be established after the second resurrection and this 1000 year period. They say that the 1000 year reign of Christ will be on this earth, but you will see that the Bible does not support their position. The 1000 years will be spent in heaven, not on earth.
However, they are certainly correct in referring to two resurrections; one of the righteous to eternal life, and one of the wicked to condemnation (John 5:28-29). They are also correct concerning these resurrections being 1000 years apart, and regarding the first resurrection being of the righteous saints, while the second resurrection is of the wicked. Why? Revelation 20:4 refers to the saints who did not receive the mark of the beast as reigning with Christ for 1000 years. Then, Revelation 20:5 begins by stating that “the rest of the dead” did not live again until after the 1000 years were finished. The “rest of the dead” mentioned in verse five, therefore, has to refer to the wicked, because the righteous saints who rejected the mark of the beast are alive during the 1000 years according to verse four.
Although the end of verse five states, “this is the first resurrection”, immediately after mentioning the wicked dead in the first part of the verse, we must not assume that the first resurrection refers to the wicked. Why? Because verse six continues speaking about the first resurrection, and clearly states that it is the blessed and holy ones who reign with Christ for 1000 years that have been part of the first resurrection. Furthermore, as already stated, the beginning of verse five declared that the “rest of the dead”, which would have to be the wicked dead, do not live again until after the 1000 years. The NIV Bible translation correctly places parenthesis around the first part of verse five to set it off from the rest of the verse. Because we know that the “righteous dead” are part of the first resurrection before the 1000 years begin, and because we know that the “wicked dead” have a separate resurrection after the 1000 years; therefore, contemporary theologians are justified in referring to the resurrection of the wicked as a “second” resurrection that takes place 1000 years after the first resurrection.
There is, however, one error in their doctrine. As previously mentioned, that error is regarding the location where the 1000 years are spent. I don’t believe that proponents of the 1000-year reign on earth have thought things through clearly. When Jesus returns, the earth will be in utter ruin, with literally billions of dead bodies strewn across earth’s worldwide landscape from the devastation of the “seven trumpets” and the “seven plagues” of Revelation, as presented in my article titled, “The Seven Trumpets Of Revelation”. Will Jesus have His kingdom on earth in the midst of this devastation?
At this point I’m sure some will remind me that the Bible speaks of a new earth being created, which indeed is the case (2nd Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). However, if God creates the new earth when Jesus returns, so He doesn’t have to reign amidst the stench of billions of decaying bodies in a land where all the vegetation was annihilated from the trumpets and plagues; notwithstanding, what will God do at the end of the 1000 years when the Bible states that Satan will be released to deceive the “nations“, which must be the multiplied billions of all the wicked dead who have ever lived from the beginning of time, and who have now been resurrected in the second resurrection? The Bible states that Satan and this vast innumerable army will surround the beloved city where the saints are camped, and that God will send fire from heaven to devour them (Revelation 20:7-9). If God has already created the new earth for Christ’s temporal kingdom before the 1000 years, but this new earth has now become polluted again by Satan’s presence with his vast army of the resurrected wicked; is God going to create a “second new earth” to remove the stench of sin again for Christ’s eternal kingdom? After all, sin will reach its highest magnitude ever at the end of the 1000 years, because, for the first time in history, all of the wicked going back to the days of Adam are all together at one time and place, and are led by Satan himself. Surely the eternal home of the redeemed shall not be upon the same ground that had been occupied and polluted by the largest and most wicked population in history. Therefore, God would indeed have to create “another” or “second” new earth for Christ’s eternal kingdom. However, the Bible only speaks of “one” new earth, not two. Consequently, theologians who espouse this doctrine of a 1000-year temporal kingdom on earth, must either embrace the idea of “two” new earths being created by God, in defiance of Scripture, or they must embrace the idea that either Christ’s temporal kingdom or His eternal kingdom will be located on a devastated and sin-polluted planet.
Fortunately, there is another answer that does not require us to accept either of these poor choices. It is, in fact, the only answer that totally accords with Scripture. What is it? The 1000 years mentioned in the book of Revelation will be spent in heaven.
I have already debunked the secret rapture fallacy in my article titled “The Secret Rapture”. In that article I listed numerous scriptures that prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the secret rapture doctrine is totally and unquestionably unbiblical. This is very significant, because once we know that the Bible does not teach a “secret rapture”, where believers are taken to heaven for seven years, yet we also know that they do go to heaven at some point to live in the mansions (KJV), dwelling places (AMP), or rooms (NIV), which Jesus has prepared for us (John 14:1-3); then, it becomes obvious that Jesus will take the redeemed back to heaven with Him when He returns at the end of this world, to live and reign with Him there for the 1000 years mentioned in Revelation. And, that is precisely what Scripture teaches. It states that both the resurrected saints and those who are still alive when He returns will be “caught up” together to meet the Lord in the air (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17). Why “in the air”? Because we are not staying on earth, but are going back to heaven with Jesus to spend the 1000 years with Him there.
This also accords with Jesus’ statement in John 14:1-3, where He said that He has built mansions or homes in heaven for us to dwell in, and that He is personally coming back to get us. These homes that Jesus built for us in heaven are where we will spend the 1000 years. This is where we will reign with Him, as stated in Revelation 20:4,6. Heaven’s glorious mansions prepared by Jesus will not sit empty, while we dwell and reign on a devastated and sin-polluted earth.
Then, after the 1000 years, God will literally move heaven to earth, as the glorious holy city of the “New Jerusalem” descends from heaven to earth (Revelation 21:2,9-10). Note that it is the heavenly “New Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 21:2), not the old earthly Jerusalem. Also, note that this New Jerusalem is called the “Lamb’s bride or wife” (Revelation 21:2,9-10). This is an obvious indication that the redeemed saints are already inside the city as it descends from heaven, because Jesus’ bride is not buildings and streets, but is His “church body” of faithful Christian believers. This is additional proof that the saints have indeed spent the 1000 years in heaven. How else could they already be within the city when it descends from heaven at the end of the 1000 years?
There is one point that needs clarification, however, regarding Satan and the wicked surrounding the beloved city in Revelation 20:9. Obviously the city is already on the earth if they can surround it. How does this fit into the scenario that I’ve presented from Scripture? There actually is complete harmony between this text and the others I’ve discussed. The holy city comes down after the 1000 years, and the wicked dead are not resurrected until after the 1000 years. Once they’ve been resurrected, Satan rallies them to surround the city in a futile attempt to overtake it. God then judges the wicked and casts them into the hell fire (Revelation 20:11-15). At this point, God creates a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1), and it only takes “one” new earth in this scriptural scenario.
It is true that John does not actually discuss the descent of the holy city in Revelation chapter twenty. However, it is obvious that it is already on the earth with the saints, because Revelation 20:9 states that this is the case. John simply delays his presentation of the vision of the holy city descending from heaven until chapter twenty-one when he describes everything about it in glorious detail, rather than digressing from his focus on Satan’s wicked army and its final assault against God and His people, followed by their judgment and sentence to hell in chapter twenty.
It would probably be a good idea to do a brief recap of this 1000-year scenario at this time. At the beginning of the 1000 years, the righteous dead are raised and ascend together with the saints who were still alive to meet Jesus in the air as He returns. They return back to heaven with Jesus to live with Him for 1000 years in the mansions He had built for them. At the end of the 1000 years heaven is moved to earth, so to speak, as the holy city of the “New Jerusalem” descends to earth with the saints in it. Also, at the end of the 1000 years, Satan is released and the wicked dead are resurrected. They surround the holy city in an attempt to overtake it, but are judged by God and thrown into the hell fire. Then God creates a new heaven and a new earth where we dwell eternally.
One last question needs to be answered. What about those verses in Isaiah, Ezekiel and elsewhere that speak of a restored kingdom of Israel, a rebuilt temple and the reinstitution of animal sacrifices; a kingdom where peace reigns and other nations are subservient to Israel? Am I ignoring those Scriptures, or trying to avoid them?
It is not necessary to ignore or avoid these passages because Jesus already provided the answer. He clearly stated that the kingdom of God was taken away from Israel and given to a new nation (Matthew 21:43); moreover, that their house was now desolate, in other words, unoccupied by God (Matthew 23:38), and He said that the things and peace that could have been theirs, was now “hidden from their eyes”, in other words, they would not see it (Luke 19:42). Jesus further stated that the reason was because they did not know the time of their visitation (Luke 19:44). They had not recognized and honored their Messiah, but rejected and crucified Him instead, declaring that they had no king but Caesar (John 19:15). And, as God had promised them in advance in Deuteronomy 28:15-68, due to their infidelity and disobedience, they would forfeit their promised blessings, and would inherit the foretold curses instead.
These curses included disease, drought, crop failure, hunger, thirst, nakedness, persecution, plundering and enemy invasion; even to the point of their resorting to cannibalism of their own children because of their hunger. And, within these curses, God clearly and specifically states that Israel will not receive their promised blessings, but will receive the exact opposite, which is the curses. Instead of becoming as the stars in multitude, as God had promised in Genesis 15:4-5, they would be reduced to being “few in number” (Deuteronomy 28:62). Instead of Israel being the head and others being the tail, as God had promised in Deuteronomy 28:13, Israel would become the tail, while their enemies would be the head (Deuteronomy 28:44). Instead of the Lord’s multiplying and doing good for Israel, giving them their land forever, and having other nations and kings serve them, as He had promised (Genesis 13:14,15; Genesis 17:6-8), the Lord would rejoice in destroying Israel and bringing them to nothing, and would pluck them from their land; moreover Israel would serve its enemies and be destroyed by them, and no one would save Israel (Deuteronomy 28:29,48,63). In fact, God says that all of these curses would continue to be upon Israel and overtake Israel and its descendants “forever” (Deuteronomy 28:45-46).
Israel could have been restored to prominence and could have been exalted above all nations in a temporal messianic kingdom, if they had repented, put an end to their sins, as stated in Daniel 9:24, and accepted and worshipped their Messiah instead of murdering Him. But, sadly, they did not repent, and they forfeited the temporal kingdom that could have been theirs. As Jesus said, the things and peace that could have been theirs was now hidden from them, and they were replaced by a new nation, the Body of Christ (1st Peter 2:9), which had its inheritance in the “New Jerusalem” in heaven (Hebrews 12:22-24), not in the earthly city of Jerusalem, which was now called Hagar, Sodom and Egypt (Galatians 4:25; Revelation 11:8). Some of these scriptures may be hard to swallow for some people, but the Bible is God’s word and we need to accept it. The truth is the truth whether we like it or not. My article titled, “Israel”, proves Israel’s rejection and its replacement by the Christian Church beyond question.