The Triumphant Millennium
May 5th, 1963 @ 8:15 AM
THE TRIUMPHANT MILLENNIUM
DR. W. A. CRISWELL
5-5-63 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Triumphant and Glorious Millennium. In our preaching through the Bible after these many years, we have come to the Revelation, and in our preaching through the Revelation, to chapter 20. And in our preaching through chapter 20, we begin at verse 4:
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 who 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.
Then it continues in the Revelation. At the end of the thousand years, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison for a little season [Revelation 20:3]. He will go out to deceive the nations again, gathering them to battle [Revelation 20:7-8]. And God shall judge these who have aligned themselves in blasphemy against the Lord God of heaven [Revelation 20:9]. "And Satan, the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are" [Revelation 20:10]. And then follows the last great judgment, the great white throne judgment, and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth [Revelation 20:11-15].
As long as there has been the story of mankind, just so long has there been the dream of a golden age in this earth. The beginning of the hope of a kingdom of holiness and beauty and righteousness is lost in the depths of antiquity. In every, in all the literature, and every example of the literature of the nations and kingdoms of the world, there has been this dream and this hope of an age of earthly glory. Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Median, Persian, Greek, Roman, wherever men have ever expressed their thoughts, there has been that hope, that vision of a beautiful and holy world. Especially is that true in the New Testament and the Old Testament, the Scriptures of the Lord God. In the prophetic word, in the Scriptures of prophecy, there is far more concerning this dream and this vision and this hope than of any other subject that God portrays in His prophetic word.
For example, in Daniel:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, One like the Son of God came with the clouds of heaven; and He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory and a kingdom, that all people, and nations, and languages should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom, that which shall not be destroyed.
Then in the New Testament, in the sermon of Simon Peter in the third chapter of the Book of Acts:
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
In that word "restitution," apokatastaseos, there is the whole image of Leviticus 25 and Leviticus 27, the Jubilee. This is earth’s ultimate and final Jubilee, Jesus in heaven until that Jubilee, called here the "restitution of all things which God hath spoken by all the holy prophets since the world began" [Acts 3:21]. In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation, by anticipation that kingdom is announced: "When the seventh angel sounded there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever" [Revelation 11:15]. And what was prophesied in the Old and the New Testaments has come to pass in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation [Revelation 20:1-6]. This is the millennial glory of our risen and present and living Lord.
Now, the millennium and its hope was the one light above all others of the church for the first three hundred years of its persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire. Not only did the anti-Nicene fathers preach and deliver the hope of a millennium and the reign of Christ in the earth as a doctrine of the Scriptures, but they also said without exception, every one of them, they also said that it was a tradition that they had received from the Lord and from the apostles themselves. Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, all of them, for the first three hundred years, without exception, all of those anti-Nicene fathers, the early ministers of the church, held before the people the golden promise of the coming of our Lord and His millennial reign in the earth.
The millennium is a time period. There are several of our words that have entered the language from Latin that refer to time. Our word "hour" is the Greek word hora, is the Latin word hora; they’re exactly alike. In our language we pronounce it "hour," an hour. Our word "annual" comes from the Latin word annus, annum, annual, a year. Our word "century" comes from the Latin word centum, "hundred." So our word "millennium" comes from the Latin word mille, "thousand," and annum, "years." A millennium is a thousand years; like a century is a hundred years, like an hour is sixty minutes. A millennium is a time period like all of these other designations. It is just come to pass that so preeminent is this period of time that it has come to be referred to as "the millennium" [Revelation 20:1-6]. It begins with the return of our Lord in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation at the battle of Armageddon, at the intervention of Christ in history [Revelation 19:11-21]. It begins with the binding of Satan, who is cast into the abyss for a thousand years [Revelation 20:1-3]. And it closes with the loosing of Satan for a brief season, privileged again to deceive the nations of the earth [Rev 20:7-10].
There are many things about the millennium that are inconceivable to us. We cannot understand them; we cannot enter into them. It is inconceivable to us a world without sin, without Satan [Revelation 20:3], a world where all deception and hypocrisy is shut out, where Satan is no longer present to tempt. There are many who say in the millennium there will be no death. These things are inconceivable to us; for our life and the life of our fathers and the life of human history has always been characterized by the presence of evil. We struggle with it; we war with it every day. But our inability to conceive of a world where righteousness reigns supreme, and where Christ in His glory is visibly present, our inability to conceive of a heaven on earth is not to rob us of the infinite hope and promise of our Lord that some day it shall surely come to pass. Not forever will death reign in our human family [Revelation 21:4]. And not forever will sin be supreme in government and in kingdom life, wasting and destroying and making a cemetery out of all of our land and earth. There is coming a day, says the Lord God, when these things shall be cast out; and there shall be a glorious and holy kingdom, which the Lord Himself shall establish in our midst [Revelation 20:4].
Now, the Bible has many, many things to say in prophecy concerning that kingdom. One of them is this: no one shall enter it except God’s people. No lost person, no sinner, shall enter that kingdom; that is so much emphasized in the Bible. "But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom," said Daniel in 7:18, "But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, forever, even for ever and ever" [Daniel 7:18]. Then he repeats it in the twenty-second verse: "The time came that the saints possessed the kingdom" [Daniel 7:22]. The he repeated it in the twenty-seventh verse, "And the kingdom . . . shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High" [Daniel 7:27]. No one shall enter that kingdom except God’s people, God’s redeemed people, God’s saved people, God’s blood-bought people [Matthew 25:31-32]. That’s why in the Bible, before the kingdom, you will find these days of judgment.
For example, in Ezekiel the twentieth chapter, the thirty-third and following verses:
As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: [Israel]
And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein you are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.
And I will bring you into the wilderness . . . and there will I plead with you face to face.
Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God.
And I will cause you to pass under the rod –
like a shepherd with his rod over the fold, and they come in one by one, and he calls them by name –
I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:
And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me: I will bring them forth out of the country whither they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
No one of Israel will enter that kingdom except those that accept the Lord God as a personal Savior. And the Lord’s going to judge the people, going to judge Israel, and He is going to plead with them, and He is going to cause them to pass under the rod, and He is going to purge out all of the rebels, and those that transgress, and they shall not enter into the land, they shall not be a part of that kingdom. No one that is a sinner shall enter that great glory of the Lord.
Same thing about the Gentiles: no lost Gentile, no lost sinner shall enter that kingdom. In the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, you have the record of the judgment of Christ upon the Gentiles. In my King James Version, the word’s translated "nations" here, Gentiles. "When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: And before Him shall be gathered all the Gentiles" [Matthew 25:31-32]. And then He is going to divide them just like He divides Israel. There is a judgment upon Israel before that kingdom [Ezekiel 20:37]; there is a judgment upon the Gentiles before that kingdom [Matthew 25:32]. And no one shall enter it except those who are saved, who receive Jesus as Lord, who are redeemed by the blood of the cross [1 Peter 1:18-19].
Another thing about the millennial kingdom; we are not to think that the millennial kingdom is one that is set up to be destroyed, that it is set up by the hand and might of the Lord God only to be wasted by the deception and power of Satan. I cannot understand, as I preached Sunday a week ago, I cannot understand the loosing of Satan; it is beyond anything that I can find in the Word of God [Revelation 20:3-7]. The Book says it! That settles it for me; I cannot understand Satan being bound [Revelation 20:1-2]. Why doesn’t God leave him bound; Satan in the abyss, why does not God leave him in the abyss? Our world, free from the mechanisms, and the deceptions, and the dissimulations, and the waste of Satan! Why does God permit him to be loosed again? [Revelation 20:7]. I cannot understand it; I cannot enter into it. Just like I cannot understand why God created him in the first place [Ezekiel 28:15]. And why did God allow him to waste God’s creation? I cannot understand it. I cannot enter into the presence of iniquity and evil; it is beyond my mind. But there is something in the economy of God, there is something in the nature of God’s government and God’s universe that Satan must be loosed for a season.
Practically all of your commentators will say that every man that is born shall have the privilege to choose between good and evil, between God and Satan. And in that kingdom age, when righteousness fills the earth, and these have not had opportunity to choose, that Satan is loosed in order that they might by tried. Whether that’s true or not lies in the imponderables and in the inexplicables of God. But, we are not to think that the kingdom of our Savior is destroyed by any power or by any influence or by any deception when Christ comes to set it up. In the economy of God, and in the program of our Lord, these great prophecies say that when our Lord comes, and when that kingdom is set up, that He shall reign forever, and ever, and ever, and forever [Revelation 11:15]. And Daniel emphasizes those forevers and evers and evers! [Daniel 7:18]. It is not a kingdom, Daniel says, that shall pass away [Daniel 7:27]. But the millennial glory of our Lord is merged into that ultimate and final eternity that God has destined for His people in a new heaven, in a new earth, in a new and beautiful and glorious city [Revelation 21:1-2].
For example, talking about the merging of the millennial kingdom into the eternity, into the foreverness of the beyond; in the fifteenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter, Paul says that "Christ, raised from the dead, is among the firstfruits; Christ, the firstfruits" [1 Corinthians 15:23], plural, when Christ was raised there was a little handful raised with Him [Matthew 27:52-53]. And when the Lord went back to glory, there went with Him resurrected, raised, immortalized, incorruptible, there went with Him a little handful of firstfruits, a little handful [Matthew 27:52-53; 1 Corinthians 15:23]; the firstfruits that they waved before the Lord at the Feast of the Firstfruits [Leviticus 23:9-14], the harbinger and the dedication of all the great harvest that was to come: "Christ, the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming. Then the end," the gleanings; "When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and all power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet" [1 Corinthians 15:23-25]. Now, what Paul says there is, that this kingdom that shall be given to the Lord Christ shall be merged into the great ultimate eternity that we read of in the twenty-first and the twenty-second chapters of the Book of Revelation [Revelation 21:1-22:21].
Now, there are a thousand things about that ultimate that are not revealed. And there are a multitude of questions about those eternities that I cannot understand. But I don’t understand any of it anyway. I cannot understand how we are made body and soul. I cannot understand how the spirit lives beyond the body, without flesh, without a house. Reading Spurgeon one time, Spurgeon said, "I can’t understand it the other way: I don’t understand how a spirit can live in a body, can take this house of dust and clay and use it as he does." All of these things are inexplicable to us; we cannot enter into them. But God says they are true. There is coming this marvelous and incomparable day, and there is coming that glorious and triumphant resurrection, and God shall house us in a body that is immortalized, glorified, raised from the dead, incorruptible, like our Lord’s own body [1 Corinthians 15:42, 52-54]. And we shall reign with our Lord [2 Timothy 2:12]; and we shall live ultimately in the place prepared for us in the beautiful and holy city [Revelation2 1:1-3].
There are many things that are revealed concerning that ultimate and final day. And I speak now, briefly – well, I’ll say, I have just started, and it’s five minutes until I have to quit – I have studied and studied and studied, oh, you do not know how much, and I don’t know how to present it. The millennium brings to us; the kingdom brings to us and our people blessings for Israel. Israel will be restored. The ninth chapter of Amos, "I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel . . . and I will plant them upon their land, they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord God" [Amos 9:14-15]. They are not only restored, but they are regenerated.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and justice in the earth.
In His days, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely . . . Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.
They shall be regenerated. "Blindness is in part," says Paul in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans,
. . . blindness in part has happened unto Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And then shall all Israel be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
This is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: as touching the election, [the purpose of God, though I don’t understand it,] but as touching the election [the purposes of God], they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
A man may break his covenant, but the covenant God made with Abraham [Genesis 12:1-3, 15:18-21], and the covenant God made with David [1 Chronicles 17:11-14], and the covenant God made called the "new covenant," that is here, that I intended to read, in the Book of Jeremiah [Jeremiah 31:31-34], God will never break. "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" [Romans 11:29]. And in that glorious kingdom day, God is not going to forget His people Israel.
It has untold blessings for the Gentiles. And I have glorious passages here about the Gentiles.
It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mount of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills; and all the Gentiles shall flow unto it. And they will say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob,And He shall judge among the Gentiles, and shall rebuke . . . 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.
And oh, so many things in the Bible, God’s blessings for the Gentiles.
Now, may I speak of God’s new creation? In the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul says that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together, waiting to be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God [Rom 8:22-23]. Now in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah, there is a beautiful picture of this new creation: "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . and the lion shall eat straw like an ox" [Isaiah 11:6-7]. It was never intended that animals eat each other. And in this glorious kingdom of our Lord, there shall be a new creation, an Edenic regeneration. "And the lion shall eat straw like an ox" [Isaiah 11:7]; he’ll be a vegetarian, he won’t be carnivorous. "And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them" [Isaiah 11:6], God’s picture of the new creation, when the ferocity and the blood thirst of this present animal world is all taken away. And it shall be like it was when God first created it, and the animals will be soft and tame and beautiful [Isaiah 11:6-8]. And there will be none to make God’s people afraid [Jeremiah 47:27]. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain" [Isaiah 11:9]. And there won’t be any more sickness, there won’t be any more disease; "the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. And the lame man shall leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing. And in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert [Isaiah 35:5-7]. And the whole earth shall blossom like a rose [Isaiah 35:1]. And all of this to the glory of our blessed Lord Jesus.
It shall come to pass that in that day, the Lord shall be King over all the earth [Zechariah 14:9]. "He shall be great," says the angel Gabriel to His mother, "He shall be great, and thou shalt call Him the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David" [Luke 1:32]. And as Paul says in the second [chapter of the] Philippian letter, "At the name of Jesus shall every knee bow, in heaven, in earth, under the earth, in the unseen world, and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" [Philippians 2:10-11].
I’ve already gone over my time. Oh! What God hath prepared for His people, for us who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9], and what an invitation from the Lord, to put our faith and our trust in Him. When the sinner is cut off, and the Christ rejecter is repudiated, and when those who refuse the mercies of God are shut out, we do not belong to that number, for we have trusted in the Lord; we have asked in humility the forgiveness of our sins [1 John 1:9]. We look forward to the day when the Lord shall come. And we shall be triumphant with Him in that incomparable and glorious kingdom. This is the blessedness and the hope of the Christian; this is that better thing that God hath prepared for us [1 Corinthians 2:9].
Now while we sing a stanza of an appeal, I think our song is of that beautiful and other land, "There’s a Land that is Fairer than Day." While we sing our hymn of appeal, somebody you to give his heart to Jesus; somebody you, to put his life with us in the fellowship of the church, a couple, or a family, while we sing this song, on the first note of the first stanza, would you come and stand by me? While we stand and while we sing.
THE TRIUMPHANT AND GLORIOUS MILLENIUM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Preliminary observations
A. The dream of a golden age of earthly glory is as old as the race itself
1. Found in the literature of all the families of earth
B. There is more said in the prophetic Scriptures regarding millennial age than any other one thing(Daniel 2:44-45, 7:13-14, Acts 3:19-21, Leviticus 25, 27, Revelation 11:15)
C. For 300 years in the dark centuries of Roman persecution, the hope of a millennial kingdom was the one luminous hope of the church
1. Universal teaching of the ante-Nicene fathers
D. Term "millennium" refers to a time period
1. From Latin mille, "thousand", and annum, "year"
2. Time period so preeminent has come to be "the millennium"
3. Begins after Satan is bound, after Armageddon, and ends after a thousand years – a new age, a new order
E. Only the saved enter it (Daniel 7:18, 21, 22, 27)
1. Judgment of Israel (Ezekiel 20:33-38)
2. Judgment of the Gentiles(Matthew 25:31-46)
F. The millennial state is not temporary; it continues in perpetuity and finally merged into the eternal kingdom(1 Corinthians 15:24-25, Revelation 22:3)
II. What it means in blessing
A. For Israel
1. Restored(Amos 9:14-15)
2. Regenerated(Jeremiah 23:5-8, Romans 11:25-29)
B. For the Gentiles(Isaiah 2:2-4, 19:23-25)
C. For the whole creation (Romans 8:19-23, Isaiah 11:6-9, 35:5-6)
D. For Christ(Zechariah 14:4-9, Luke 1:32-33, Philippians 2:9-11)