How to be a Bible Scholar, Part 5

The Age to Come

7.  The Dispensation of Divine Government, or the Millennium

Those who don’t believe in the Millennial Kingdom conveniently forget Ephesians 1:9—10—

And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

This is the purpose of this 7th dispensation, which will begin following the literal, visible, and physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth, ending both the Present Age and the Dispensation of Grace.  Just prior to the Second Coming of Christ, there will a time of unparalleled misery on parts of the earth.  This time of God’s wrath will last 7 years and will begin following the rapture of the Church, and is known as “The Tribulation.”  The Second Coming of Christ then, will be the event that will conclude the Tribulation, the Present Age and the 6th dispensation.

The doctrine of the Millennium, ignored, disbelieved or at least misunderstood by many mainline denominations is, in fact, a key ingredient in God’s marvelous plan of salvation.  Salvation is far broader in scope than just saving the sinner from his sins.  God, having secured our redemption through the finished work of Christ on the Cross, purposes in the Age to Come to continue displaying His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ—

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  (Ephesians 2:6—7)

However, it must be stressed that the Cross is the undisputed centerpiece of God’s great eternal plan and everything of the past looked forward to it, and everything in the future will look back to it.

The Kingdom Doctrine

The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament was a promise to be fulfilled.  Under the Law, with all of its ordinances and demands, the Kingdom was barely seen in type and shadow.  During our present dispensation of grace, the Kingdom is being established in its spiritual sense.  Indeed, the Kingdom of God is here now, even though its material elements are lacking and because of Satan’s corrupting interference there is a mixture of good and evil within the Kingdom at this moment (Matthew 13).

The terms “Kingdom of Heaven” in Matthew and “Kingdom of God” in Mark and Luke are identical and refer to this present dispensation of the Gospel, and those who respond to the preaching of the Gospel enter into the Kingdom by their new birth.  The Kingdom of God is being built now, actually and spiritually, but God is not yet glorified on the earth as He should be and will be.  Consider this phrase in the Lord’s Prayer—

[Y]our kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  (Matthew 6:10)

This part of the prayer is yet unanswered.  It will be answered when Jesus Christ returns to earth and establishes His Millennial Kingdom.

This dispensation will last 1,000 years and its details are found in Revelation 20:1—7.  This will be a time when Satan will be bound and Christ will reign on the earth.  In Daniel’s vision, found in Daniel 2 and 7, he saw a succession of four world powers that have and will dominate the world during the “times of the Gentiles.”  These four world powers will be followed by the “stone kingdom”—

This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.”  (Daniel 2:45)

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.  (Daniel 7:13-14)

This kingdom will be inaugurated when Christ returns (Revelation 19:1—21) to destroy the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:8) and to judge the nations (Joel 3:9—17).

Form of Government

The earth will be ruled, not as a monarchy, or a democracy, or an autocracy, but as a theocracy, where God Himself will rule, in the Person of His Son.  David, from whose lineage Jesus Christ descended, will have a part in the government, which will be a restoration of Israel, essentially.  Christ also promised His 12 disciples that they would also have a part in His kingdom—

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  (Matthew 19:28)

Seat of Government

The world’s capital during the Millennium will be Jerusalem.

In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established s chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.

Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”  The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will eat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.  (Isaiah 2:2—4)

Chief characteristics of this dispensation

This dispensation will be characterized by the absence of Satan, the archenemy of God; he will be bound for the duration and humanity will be allowed to live under the reign of Christ, willingly submitting to His rule of law.  The spiritual conditions on the earth during the Millennium will be the exact opposite to what we have now.  Joel 2:28—29 will see its complete fulfillment as the Holy Spirit poured out like we have never experienced before.

During the Millennium knowledge of the Lord will be universal (Zechariah 8:22—23; Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34).  Today, evil prevails and many nations are in a kind of spiritual darkness, but in the Age to Come, conditions will be reversed.

God’s glory will be manifested for all to see overshadowing the city of Jerusalem.  The prophet Ezekiel saw the glory of God departing gradually from the temple and city of Jerusalem and eventually disappearing altogether during one of Israel’s darkest times of idolatry (Ezekiel 9:3; 10:4; 10:18; 11:23).  But he also saw the glory of God returning filling the Millennial temple and God’s Shekinah glory will be continually hovering over Jerusalem (Ezekiel 43:1—5; Isaiah 4:5—6).

There will be universal peace during the Millennium and all human beings will prosper like never before because there will be no more taxation, no more governments to prop up, no military to fund, no social programs that suck money out of the pockets of citizens.

Land and animals will also be changed during the Millennium, and man will once again live to a great age like we see in Genesis (Isaiah 65:20—22; Zechariah 8:4).

How it will end

Like every single previous dispensation, the Millennial Dispensation will end in one final failure of mankind.  When Satan is released, he will find many, many human beings, living under the reign of Christ, ready and willing to follow him.  This will be mankind’s final rebellion against God, and His judgment against man, Satan, and his minions will be swift, terrible, and final.

Summary of dispensations

Dispensations are the way God has been testing man since the days of Adam.  Man under the state of innocence, under his conscience, under human government, during the promise and perfect law, under grace and even in a perfect environment like the Millennium, man is a total failure apart from God.  Man needs salvation, which can come only from God Himself.

Rightly Dividing the Word:  The Judgments

In the Minister’s Handbook, these are common words that are read at most graveside services:

“…waiting for the resurrection and the general judgment.”

That erroneous statement, repeated for generations, has led many Christians, pastors included, to think that the world will be converted by the preaching of the Gospel and then the Millennium will be ushered in.  After the thousand years are up, the dead, righteous and wicked, of all ages and dispensations will be brought to stand before the throne of God and judged for eternal life.

This is a completely unbiblical position.  The Bible speaks of no less than three thrones or judgment seats:

  1. The judgment seat (bema) of Christ in the heavenlies, 2 Corinthians 5:10.  Only believers will be present there.
  2. The throne of Christ on the earth where He will sit as the Millennial King to judge and rule over the nations, Matthew 25:31—32; Luke 1:32.
  3. The great white throne in heaven, before which the unsaved, wicked dead will be summoned to stand, Revelation 20:11—12.

Furthermore, the Bible teaches that there are seven judgments or phases of judgment, which will include every created intelligent being.   Every Christian will pass through a three-fold judgment, either personally or on his behalf.  The three-fold judgment is:  (1)  as a sinner, Christ was judged on his behalf on the Cross; (2) as a son in the family he is being judged (disciplined) by a faithful heavenly Father; (3) as a servant he will be judged in the presence of the Owner of the Vineyard as to his conduct in the vineyard.

All the judgments of Scripture

1.  Judgment of the Believer’s Sin, John 5:24

This was accomplished on the Cross where the sins of the world were laid upon Jesus Christ, who as the Lamb of God bore them away (1 John 2:2; Hebrews 10:10).  Christ suffered the penalty due the sinner, met the just claims of God against the sinner for breaking God’s law, and justified the sinner.

2.  Believer’s Judgment of Himself, 1 Corinthians 11:31—32

This principle, applied to the Corinthian church, is applicable to all believers.  This judgment sees the believer as a son in the Father’s house.  Judgment will come to the child of God for lack of obedience to God’s Word, for failure to confess sin or acknowledge fault before God, and, if necessary before his fellow believers (1 John 1:9; 3:20—22; James 5:16).  The Holy Spirit applies the Word of God as we read it and as we wait in prayer before the Lord.  However, when we fail to measure our lives by the Word and fail to heed the Holy Spirit as He speaks to our hearts, the discipline of God will come into our lives, not as a punitive measure, not as a rejection, but as a way to cause us to see the errors in our way.

3.  The Judgment Seat of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:10

This is not a trial to see who is saved or not, but rather it is a judgment of the saved only with the purpose of distributing or withholding rewards for faithful service (see 1 Corinthians 3:11—15, and also 1 John 2:28).

4.  The Judgment of Israel,

The nation of Israel holds a unique covenant with God based on His choice of them to be His witnesses among the nations (Isaiah 43:20; Romans 3:1—2).   In addition, God had ordained that from Israel would salvation, both in Messiah and in the nation directly, when it is completely restored to God’s full favor and is again a blessing.   In the bounds of this covenant, God refers to the nation of Israel as His sons (Isaiah 43:6) and deals with the nation as a whole as a father would deal with an errant son; He chastises them for their disobedience, yet never ceases to love them.   Stephen’s inspired indictment of Israel in Acts 7 is only too true, and consequently God’s hand of judgment has been on them for a long time.

From among the mass of unbelieving Jews living apostate lives, God has been slowly gather “a remnant,” made up of faithful and believing Jews known to Himself (Romans 11:5).  Virtually all Israel has rejected God in favor of being like all the secular nations around them, just like in the days of Samuel and Saul.  When God sent Israel their promised Messiah in the Person of Jesus Christ, they rejected Him, and even after His redemptive work had been completed and salvation offered to all who would believe, the nation refused the conviction of the Holy Spirit, rejected His messengers, and their rebellion brought about the terrible judgment of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD and their subsequent dispersion among the nations of the world.

However, God has promised to regather them at some point in the future, but first they must be brought into a position of repentance.  The current nation of Israel and the so-called Zionest movement among evangelical churches that seeks to restore the nation of Israel using political means is not the promised regathering of Israel.  When Israel is restored, it will happen only after it has suffered the horrors of the Tribulation and the remnant brought to its knees in repentance.

5.  The Judgment of the Nations, Matthew 25:1—46

Matthew 25 records this essence of this judgment, which will be, not of individuals, but of nations, and will occur on the earth, after the Tribulation, just before the Millennium take place.  The sheep represent one class of nations, the goats another class, and results of this judgment will be determined by how nations treated the Jews, Christ’s brothers.  The principle from which this judgment is drawn was laid down thousands of years ago when God covenanted with Abraham to bless nations that blessed him and to curse nations that did not (Genesis 12:1—3).

6.  Judgment of the Unsaved, Revelation 20:11—15

This terrible judgment will take place as the close of the Millennium, 1,000 years after the Judgment of the Nations.  This judgment will not take place on earth, but in heaven.  This judgment is necessary to pass sentence on all who refused God’s gracious gift of salvation while they were alive on the earth.  There will be degrees of punishment; the unsaved will be judged according to their works, which will have been recorded in order to determine their degree of punishment.

7.  Judgment of the Angels, Jude 6

This judgment will likely take place some time during the Judgment of the Unsaved, at the close of the Millennium.   Satan and some of his angels have limited freedom now, while some demons are kept in confinement because of the seriousness of their transgressions (Jude 6, Genesis 6:1—5).  Satan, bound during the Millennium then let loose once again, will meet his final destiny in the Lake of Fire.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd
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