The Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth


by Joseph Rector


Old Testament prophets repeatedly predicted an end-time future in which Christ rules the world from Jerusalem. According to these prophecies, Israel will experience horrific judgments, followed by divine intervention against the encircling enemies. After Christ destroys the wicked armies at Armageddon, He will rule the remnants of the nations with a rod of iron, requiring that they worship Him at Jerusalem. In addition, the nations will bring offerings of tribute that will enrich Israel for the duration of the thousand years. Seventh-day Adventists, along with many Christians, hold that the millennial prophecies will never be literally fulfilled, but ignoring these prophecies makes vast swaths of the Old Testament completely irrelevant. Why would God bother to repeatedly give such specific prophecies if He had no intention of fulfilling them?


The fate of the millennial prophecies is vital because, according to the Bible, one unfulfilled prophecy disqualifies a person from being a true prophet. Moses instructed the Israelites, “But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death. You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken” (Deut. 18:21-22, NIV).


As a former Seventh-day Adventist, I reject Ellen G. White’s prophetic claims, in large part because of the failures of her prophecies. But if the Bible is full of unfulfilled prophecies, it could be argued that we should be much more lenient with Ellen White. Several dear Adventists have told me, “If you throw out Ellen White, you have to throw out Isaiah, Jeremiah, and a host of other Old Testament prophets.” And IF Jeremiah and his fellow prophets predicted things that will not come to pass, then failed prophecies couldn’t be used to judge prophetic claims. The abundance of self-proclaimed prophets underscores the need for wisdom in this area.


But after carefully studying various interpretations of the much-ignored millennial prophecies, I am convinced that God will completely fulfill each of these prophecies in the future. Therefore, this article parallels several millennial prophecies in order to show that God’s plan for the Millennium is consistent and specific throughout scripture. The biblical evidence has led me to believe that a Dispensational approach to scripture, including the belief in a pre-Tribulation/pre-Millennial Rapture of the church, is the best framework for meaningful interpretation of many OT passages.


Dispensationalism teaches that God has employed a variety of Dispensations, or covenant agreements, through which, in His sovereign wisdom, He has related to His people in history. The Dispensations are distinct rather than progressive. Pre-tribulation theology teaches that Christ will return to Rapture His church prior to the Tribulation, during which the wrath of God will be poured upon the wicked as described in the Book of Revelation. After the Tribulation, Christ will return to Earth with His saints, slay His enemies, and establish His throne in Jerusalem. He will reign for a thousand years (the Millennium). During the Tribulation and Millennium, God will literally fulfill many prophecies that He swore unconditionally to Israel. 


At Issue: The Literal Fulfillment of Prophecy


The millennial reign of Christ on earth is not a salvational issue, but it is important because the millennial Old Testament prophecies can be used to argue the uncertain nature of prophecy in general.


Seventh-day Adventists, along with many Christians, hold that God’s promises to Israel were transferred to the church, an idea that is known as replacement theology. Since they find no literal way to apply many Old Testament prophecies to the church, they hold that these prophecies must have been part of God’s conditional will (see Jeremiah 18:7-10), and that the conditions—whatever they may have been—were never met. Therefore, many prophecies regarding the future of Israel were never fulfilled and will never be fulfilled, according to replacement theology. 


Prophetic Conditionality


Some prophecies are definitely conditional, but there must either be stated conditionality or strongly implied conditionality in a prophecy before one can consider it conditional. An example of stated conditionality is found in Deuteronomy 30:15-18 (NIV):


“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them,  I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.”


Stated conditionality provides a clear “if/then” statement (e.g. If you obey, then God will bless, but if you do not obey, then God will bring disaster upon you).


Implied conditionality occurs when God gives a prophetic warning, and the promised judgment is rescinded in mercy after the recipients repent. The Book of Jonah is a great example of implied conditionality. After God spares Nineveh, Jonah complains, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:2-3). From the beginning, Jonah knew that his prophecy contained an implied opportunity for repentance. That’s why he tried to run away from God. Jonah didn’t want God to show compassion to Nineveh, and he knew that God would do precisely that if the people repented. Jonah’s prophecy is clearly an example of implied conditionality. The prophecy didn’t fail. The judgment was suspended due to the mercy of God.


While it is clear that some prophecies are conditional, it is dangerous to misuse the concept. Clearly, all failed prophecies cannot be excused as conditional because prophets must be judged on the accuracy of their prophecies, among other things: “[W]hen the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him” (Jer. 28:9, KJV). The Bible is specific that one failed prophecy proves a prophet false (see Deut. 18: 21-22). Conditionality is not a get-out-of-hell-free card for failed prophets.


The Old Testament millennial prophecies are not conditional. None of the prophecies of Christ’s millennial reign express any conditionality whatsoever; in fact, God bluntly states that they are unconditional (see Eze. 36:20-23). God’s word is sure. Unless conditionality is either stated or strongly implied (as in the case of Jonah), then a prophecy given by a true prophet must come to pass. Otherwise, the prophet is a false prophet. 


God’s Sovereign Plan for the Physical Restoration of Israel


God has a continuing plan for the nation of Israel. The Bible promises restoration and blessing for the nation of Israel. The restoration could not have been fulfilled during any prior period of history, nor could it apply to the church under the church-as-spiritual-Israel replacement theology.


The nation of Israel was dramatically created in 1948, an event dramatically predicted in Ezekiel 36:


“Therefore say unto the house of Isra el, thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Eze. 36:22-27).


Notice how God unconditionally promised to restore Israel for the sake of His name. God promised to “gather [Israel] out of all countries.” The dispersion predicted—involving “all countries”—would have been worldwide, thereby precluding the restoration from Babylonian captivity in 538 B.C. as the intended fulfillment. The promise of clean new hearts and spirits for all Israel remains to be fulfilled, as does the promise that God will leave “none” of the Jews in other lands:


“When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 39:27-29).


Could these promises be conditional? No! God declares that He will accomplish all these things for the glory of His name—not because Israel has done anything to deserve the promised blessing. These promises rest upon God’s unchangeable character. So long as He is sovereign and holy, Israel is guaranteed a restoration that will transform them into a holy nation. The restoration of the state of Israel in 1948 paves the way for God’s ultimate plan for Israel.


God’s Sovereign Plan for the Spiritual Restoration of Israel


The physical restoration of Israel is a precursor to the spiritual restoration that God promises to bestow upon Israel. The Apostle Paul reveals that at some point in earth’s history, “all Israel shall be saved.”


Romans 11:1-2: “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.”


According to Paul, Israel has not been cast away—even after rejecting the Messiah.


Rom. 11:25-29: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they [Israel] are enemies for your [Gentiles’] sakes: but as touching the election, they [Israel] are beloved for the fathers’ [patriarchs’] sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance [are irrevocable].”


“All Israel shall be saved.” Why? Because of God’s sovereign election of Israel, for the sake of the patriarchs. Is this covenant with Israel conditional? Not according to Paul. God promises to “take away their sins” because His calling is irrevocable. Could this prophecy be fulfilled to the Church as “spiritual Israel”? No. The passage repeatedly contrasts literal Israel with the Gentile believers who represent spiritual Israel in replacement theology. Therefore, we know that the promises to Israel in Romans 11 must apply to literal Israel rather than to the predominately Gentile church. The Jewish survivors of the Tribulation will form an elect remnant, and they and their descendants will comprise a holy nation under Christ during the Millennium, as we will see in future Bible passages.


The spiritual restoration of Israel will be a sovereign miracle in which God delivers Israel from a state of profound spiritual death.


Ezekiel 37:1-14: “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.”


The valley of dry bones symbolizes the current spiritual state of Israel. They have been spiritually dead for so long that only bones are left. Being spiritually dead, they can’t even plead with God for a miracle. All they can do is mumble about their fate: “Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost….” They do not come to God—He comes to them and breathes His Spirit into them. There is nothing conditional about this prophecy. The dry bones are completely helpless! God Himself guarantees the spiritual restoration of Israel, and it must surely take place (vs. 14). 


How will God accomplish the spiritual restoration of Israel?


Chapters 4-18 of Revelation describe God’s outreach to Israel. Key to the interpretation of these chapters is the identity of the woman of Revelation 12:


“[A]nd the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne” (Rev. 12:4-5, KJV).


Who is the male child destined to rule with a rod of iron, and who gives birth to him? The child is Jesus, for He returns to rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 19:5). Some hold that the woman is a symbol of the church, but Christ was not born through the church. The church is represented as the bride of Christ, not as His mother. Christ came forth from Israel. Therefore, the woman of Revelation 12 is Israel, and the outcome for the woman reveals God’s special protection for the remnant of Israel during the Tribulation:


“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:14-17, KJV).


During the Tribulation, God will protect the remnant of Israel, and vast numbers will be saved through acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. The 144,000 saints described in Revelation 7 are Jews representing the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev. 7:4).  


Two prophetic witnesses stationed in Jerusalem, evocative of Moses and Elijah, will bear a powerful message from God during the Tribulation, and while this message isn’t exclusively sent to the Jews, a powerful impact from their testimony will certainly be felt in Israel.


“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth…. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.  And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified…. And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Rev. 11:3-13, KJV).


As a result of the ministry of the two witnesses, the remnant of the woman’s seed give glory to God. Since the woman is Israel, the remnant of her seed must also be Israel. The remnant are called out from Israel through the miraculous intervention of God during the Tribulation.


God’s Sovereign Plan for the Gentile Attack Upon Israel


Outstanding spiritual and material blessings are promised to Israel during the Millennium, but the prophecies also contain a great deal of bad news for the Jewish people—particularly for those who persist in rebellion against God during the Tribulation. Prior to the Millennium, God will incite a group of Gentile nations against Israel, and extreme suffering will result—both for the enemies of Israel and for the Jewish people who stubbornly reject their opportunity for repentance.


Ezekiel 38:1-16: “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee. Thus saith the Lord God; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land. . . . And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.”


Zech. 14:2: “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”


Has an attack against Jerusalem as described in these passages ever occurred? No. While Jerusalem has been ravaged many times, this overwhelming attack is specifically designated as occurring in “the latter days.” The Gentile attack will come as a judgment upon Israel and upon the Gentiles. Those Israelites who have refused to accept Christ as their Savior will be killed before Christ intervenes on behalf of His people.


Divine Intervention (Battle of Armageddon/Second Coming)


God will intervene to save a remnant of His people from the Gentile attack, and His intervention is known as the Second Coming, which is not to be confused with the Rapture of the church, during which Christ does not touch the ground (I Thess. 4:16-17). However, at the Second Coming, Christ will stand upon the Mount of Olives and destroy His enemies gathered about Jerusalem.


Zechariah 14:3-5: “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.”


When Christ’s feet touch the mount of Olives, the passage gives a very specific command to the righteous Israelites: “flee to the valley of the mountains” which will “reach unto Azal.” Obviously, a command such as this could only apply to believers in Jerusalem—not to a worldwide church as envisioned by replacement theology.


Many other passages describe the destruction wrought by Christ at His Second Coming.


Zechariah 14:12-14: “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour. And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.”


Ezekiel 38:19-23: “For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. And I will call for a sword against him [Gog] throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord God: every man's sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.”


An event is coming that will shake the entire world, for “all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence.” The wicked will be judged with disease and blood, along with floods of rain, hail, fire, and brimstone.


Ezekiel 39:1-8: “Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel: And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God. And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the Lord. So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord God; this is the day whereof I have spoken.”


The Second Coming is a literal divine intervention against an invasion of Jerusalem. As in so many other Judeo-centric passages of the end, the Lord vows to fulfill the prophecy so that He will be magnified in all the earth. There is no hint that any of these prophecies are conditional upon the behavior of Israel. These prophecies will be fulfilled because God has sworn to fulfill them for His glory.


One of the most powerful OT passages describing the millennial rule of Christ is Isaiah 66, which describes the Second Coming of Christ, along with revealing in detail what will happen after the Second Coming. Here is the description of the Second Coming in Isaiah 66:


Isaiah 66:15-16: “For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many.”


The Lord will actually “plead” with the inhabitants of earth through the destruction wrought at the Second Coming. He will slay “many”—but apparently not all. Through this judgment, Christ appeals to “all flesh.” Therefore, all the inhabitants of earth are not destroyed by the Second Coming. The fate of some must remain open at the Second Coming, pending their response to the millennial rule of Christ.


Revelation 19 is the most comprehensive description of the Second Coming in the New Testament, and it contains numerous parallels to the preceding Old Testament passages. The vision of Revelation 19 begins with the church in heaven at the wedding supper of the Lamb. How did the church arrive in heaven prior to the Second Coming? Apparently, the church was raptured prior to the Second Coming. The fact that the church isn’t mentioned in the Book of Revelation from Chapter 4 through Chapter 18 provides support to the idea that the church isn’t on earth during the judgments described in the central portion of Revelation.


When the wedding celebration ends in heaven, Christ returns to earth with His bride the church—still clothed in the white linen from the marriage feast. At this point, Christ unleashes His wrath upon the armies gathered against Him.


Revelation 19:7-21: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. . . . And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”


The parallels between Revelation 19 and the previous passages in this section should amaze those who minimize or ignore Old Testament eschatological passages. Zechariah 14:5 describes Christ returning with His saints, and Revelation specifies that these saints are the bride of Christ—the church. In Isaiah 66:16, Christ comes with a sword, and Revelation adds that this sword proceeds from His mouth. Ezekiel 39:4 states the Christ will feed His enemies “unto the ravenous birds of every sort,” and Revelation describes the “fowl feast” in great detail. 


The most important parallel between Revelation 19 and the Old Testament millennial passages is the declaration that Christ comes to “rule [the nations] with a rod of iron.” Revelation 20 and the OT millennial passages go on to describe the nature of Christ’s rule over the nations.


The Old Testament millennial passages are utterly consistent with the New Testament view of the Second Coming. Therefore, it is unwise to spiritualize or conditionalize the clear Bible teaching of Christ’s millennial rule on earth. All the promises made to Israel will be literally fulfilled to Israel because God has sworn by His holy name to fulfill them.


Binding of Satan


Revelation 20:1-3: “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season."


Satan is chained and thrown into the bottomless pit to prevent him from deceiving the nations during the Millennium. The imagery of a bottomless pit is indicative of an otherworldly experience. Clearly, large numbers of people representing many nations survive the Second Coming. Christ must rule these nations with a rod of iron to curb their natural wickedness while simultaneously binding Satan the tempter, thereby ensuring a thousand years of peace. 


Millennial Rule of Christ


Christ will rule the earth from Jerusalem for a thousand years following His Second Coming.


“And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all….” And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever” (Eze. 37:21-25, KJV).


Written long after David’s literal kingship, this prophecy clearly points to Christ, who “shall be their [Israel’s] prince for ever.” The prophecy is also to be fulfilled on the earth, as Israel “shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob.” Obviously, this prophecy has never been fulfilled. Israel has never fully obeyed the Lord as the prophecy states, nor do they possess all the land promised them by God. This prophecy contains no hint of conditionality. If it is to remain unfulfilled, then Christ Jesus will be deprived of the glory predicted for Him.


Many prophecies give additional details of Christ’s millennial reign:


Zechariah 14:7-9: “And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.”


Isaiah 66:22-24: “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”


Isaiah 66 describes Christ’s millennial reign in Jerusalem following the Second Coming. The dead bodies are the slain from the armies of evil that surrounded Jerusalem prior to Christ’s return. The slain of the Lord are so numerous that it will take more than seven months to bury the bodies (Eze. 39:12-15). Therefore, at the beginning of Christ’s reign, Sabbath worship will apparently include viewing the decaying bodies of God’s slain enemies.


Rev. 20:4-6: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”


Tribulation martyrs who had refused the mark of the beast and persisted in their witness for Christ receive the particular honor of helping Christ administer His millennial kingdom.


Aftermath of Armageddon


While the resurrected martyrs reign in Jerusalem with Christ, the Jews will be busy cleansing the land from the pollution of dead bodies from the invading armies of Gog’s unholy coalition:


Ezekiel 39:9-29: “And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years: So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord God. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog. And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land. Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord God. And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search. And the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man's bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog. And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah. Thus shall they cleanse the land. And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord God.”


This prophecy is very specific. After the Second Coming, the Israelites will spend seven months cleaning up the bodies of the wicked (followed by a less-intense ongoing clean-up as more bones are found). In addition, they will spend seven years burning the invaders’ war materiel for fuel. Why would God give such a high level of specificity if this prophecy is conditional or figurative? But the prophecy is not conditional. It clearly hasn’t happened yet, but it will certainly happen because it represents God’s plan for the Millennium. 


Temporal Blessings Upon Israel


Ezekiel 36:28-38: “And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.  I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. Thus saith the Lord God; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it. Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock. As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the Lord.”


In Ezekiel 36, God repeatedly asserts that He will accomplish these promises for the glory of His name, so that the heathen will know that He is God. There is no hint of conditionality in this passage. Since it hasn’t happened yet, we should trust that it will happen. God has sworn to do it.


Isaiah 60: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee . . . . The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory. . . . Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee. And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious. The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee; The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. . . . Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. . . .”


During the Millennium, the Gentile nations will serve Christ and pay tribute to Christ and to His special people. Riches will pour into Jerusalem. This passage even indicates that perfect animals fit for sacrifice will arrive in Jerusalem as part of the tribute from the Gentiles: “All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory.” While the idea of animal sacrifices during the Millennium may concern many Christians, it is important to submit our preferences to scripture. I believe that God’s future method of relating to Israel will be utterly consistent with the New Covenant, but that it will retain some features of the Old Covenant—reinterpreted from a New Covenant perspective.


Isaiah 60 clearly has never been fulfilled. It is also not conditional, since God swears that He will do this (“I will make the place of my feet glorious” - vs. 13). Therefore, Isaiah 60 remains to be fulfilled for the glory of God (vs. 21).


Isaiah 65:17-25: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.”


The “new heavens and a new earth” described in Isaiah 65 cannot be the ultimate New Earth depicted in Revelation 21:1 because Isaiah 65 states that people will die during this time, and that there will be sinners. Due to the presence of death and sin, this passage must describe the millennial rule of Christ on earth. This will be a time of great peace, prosperity, and physical health blessings, not only to Israel, but for the whole world.


New Covenant with Israel During the Millennium


The Christian Church is now living in the time of the New Covenant as outlined in Hebrews 8, but it would be wrong to ignore the fact that the New Covenant was first promised to Israel and Judah. The Christian New Covenant does not preclude Israel from also having a New Covenant. From the biblical evidence, it appears that the Jewish New Covenant will contain features of the Old Covenant, but we believe that any Old Covenant practices retained during the Millennium will be entirely consistent with Christ’s completed atonement on the cross.


The timing of the New Covenant with Israel must come during the Millennium due to the context of the following passage, in which the New Covenant was promised to Israel:


Jeremiah 31:31-40: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath. And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever."


The first part of this passage is quoted by the writer of Hebrews when discussing the New Covenant in the Christian era, but the context of Jeremiah 31 is clearly tied to the future of Israel. The New Covenant was promised to Israel, and while the Gentiles were given the benefit of this promise, it is wrong to withhold the promise from its original recipients. God declares, “If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel,” meaning that He will not cast Israel aside.


According to Jeremiah 31, the New Covenant with Israel and Judah will come in conjunction with the rebuilding of Jerusalem according to very specific dimensions. The city will be “holy” and will never again be “thrown down.” Jerusalem has never been completely holy to the Lord, so the entire prophecy, including the promise of the New Covenant with Israel as a nation, must be future.


For those who question whether the New Covenant will apply to Israel, several other passages speak of a new and everlasting covenant relationship between God and the people of Israel.


Ezekiel 37:26-28: “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.”


The context of Ezekiel 37 is the time when Christ will rule Israel on the throne of David, and God promises to establish an everlasting covenant of peace with Israel at this time.


Isaiah 61:8-10: “For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."


The idea of being covered with a robe of salvation corresponds to the Christian New Covenant. God’s millennial New Covenant with the nation of Israel will certainly be grace-based and rooted in the complete atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross.


Blessings Upon the Nations


Isaiah 66:18-21: “For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the Lord.”


Ezekiel 39:21-23: “And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward. And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword.”


Zech. 14:16: “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.”


The passages in this section take place after Christ’s Second Coming (at which He defeats Gog and Magog). Isaiah 66 speaks of nations that do not know the Lord remaining after the Second Coming of Christ. Zechariah 14 adds that Gentiles from the nations of earth that attacked Jerusalem will remain alive after Armageddon. God will reveal His glory to them. The survivors of the nations will be blessed by being included in the worship of the Lord during the Millennium.


End of the Millennium


Revelation 20:7-21:4: “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.  And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”


The New Jerusalem descends after the judgment at the great white throne, according to Revelation 20-21. Therefore, the “beloved city” attacked by Satan must be the earthly city of Jerusalem, from which Christ has ruled during the Millennium.




The Bible specifies a period of massive devastation for Israel, followed by divine intervention leading to a Millennium of peace under the reign of Christ. The Bible is clear regarding God’s end-time plans for Israel, and His plans have not changed. Every unfulfilled prophecy will have a complete, literal fulfillment in the future. The Old Testament prophecies of the end are unconditionally founded upon God’s promise. They cannot be voided by human failure.


February 22, 2015