The Triumphant Millennium
May 5th, 1963 @ 10:50 AM
THE TRIUMPHANT MILLENNIUM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-5-63 10:50 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled The Triumphant and Glorious Millennium. In our preaching through the Bible after these many, many years, we have come to the last and the climactic book; the Revelation.
In our preaching through the Revelation, we have come to chapter 20. And in preaching through chapter 20, we have come to the subject of the millennium. And the reading of the text is Revelation 20, verses 4-6 [Revelation 20:4], “And I saw thrones, and I saw them that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them” [Revelation 20:4]; that is the great, glorified, resurrected host of God’s sainted people. Then especially he says:
I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped 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 the verses that immediately follow describe the deception of Satan. When the thousand years are expired, he is loosed out of his prison, and he gathers his dupes together in blasphemy and in battle against the Lord God [Revelation 20:7-8]. And they are destroyed by fire from heaven [Revelation 20:9]:
And the devil that deceived them is cast into the lake of fire…
where the beast and the false prophet are,
to be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
There follows the revelation of the great white throne judgment [Revelation 20:11-15]. Then follows the ultimate and final and eternal kingdom of our Lord and the New City in which His people shall dwell in blessedness, in holiness, in righteousness and forever [Revelation 21:1-22:21].
The subject this morning: the triumphant and glorious kingdom, the millennial age of our Lord. I found at the 8:15 o’clock service, I just barely had opportunity just to suggest some of these things that I had prepared for the message at this hour. I suppose that if I had five hours I would want ten. If I were assigned to preach from dawn until dusk, I would ask to preach around the clock. I don’t know why these things are so impossible to encompass in so brief a time, but they are. The fullness of the riches of the revelation of God in what He has prepared for His children is immeasurable. It is unfathomable. It is illimitable. And we just touch the hem of the garment in the few moments assigned in these worship hours. So as rapidly as we can now, we shall speak of this glorious day that God has promised for His Son and for us in this earth.
As long as the human race has lived, just so long has there been a dream of a golden age. It is found in the literature of all of the families of the earth. The beginning of that vision and of that dream is lost in the dim antiquities of the past. You find it recurring again and again in the literature of the ancient Egyptians, of the ancient Babylonians and Chaldeans, of the ancient Persians and Medeans, of the ancient Greeks and the Romans; this hope, this vision, this dream of a new and a golden age.
Time and again will you find it here in the Word of God. Prophet after prophet, apostle after apostle, book after book, will you find it recorded here in God’s Holy Scriptures. There is more said in the prophetic Scriptures regarding this millennial age than of any other one thing in the prophecies themselves.
For example in the Book of Daniel, when Daniel saw the great vision of the course of world history, he saw last of all a stone cut without hands [Daniel 2:34] that broke in pieces all of that vast image and grew to fill the whole earth [Daniel 2:35]. Then he interprets it:
In the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed…
Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and it brake in pieces the iron, brass, clay, silver and gold; so the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass.
There is a kingdom coming that shall be established by the intervention of the Lord God Himself. Then in the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, One like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, He came to the Ancient of Days.
And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, 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 a very typical thing in the preaching of the apostles; Simon Peter, in his sermon in the third chapter of Acts said:
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 apokatastaseōs
In that one word is a great jubilee described in Leviticus 25 [Leviticus 25:19-21] and Leviticus 27 [Leviticus 27:23-24], “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution,” of earth’s great Jubilee which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began [Acts 3:21]. There has never been a time, says Simon Peter, where the great Jubilee of God’s edenic re-creation has not been spoken of in the inspiration of the Holy Ghost through their mouths [Acts 3:21].
Then of course, in the eleventh chapter of the Book of the Revelation, the seventh angel sounded and by anticipation he announces the coming of the kingdom, “There were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever”[Revelation 11:15].
There hasn’t been any time when God has not purposed this for us, that we with our Lord should reign in holiness, in righteousness, in glory and triumph in this earth. And in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, that glorious millennial kingdom has come to pass [Revelation 20:1-15]. This is its reality.
Now for three hundred years in the dark centuries of Roman persecution, the hope of a millennial kingdom was the one luminous light in those dark days of persecution and oppression. Every one of the ante-Nicene Fathers, every minister of Christ who lived for the first three hundred years after Jesus, spoke in the hope of that personal reign of our Lord in the earth. Papias, and Justin Martyr, and Ignatius, and Irenaeus, and Tertullian: all of them with one accord, without exception they spoke of that glorious hope of a millennium. And they delivered that message not only as a doctrine of the Holy Scriptures, but they said that they had also received it as a tradition from the Lord and the apostles themselves.
The millennium is a time period; it’s built on two Latin words. Several of our time words in our language come from the Latin, and millennium is just another one of those several time words. The Greek word for “hour” is hora. The Latin word is hora. And when it comes into our language we pronounce it “hour.” The Latin word for year is annum; annus, nominative. And our word “annual” is a Latin word referring to a year. The Latin word for one hundred is centum, and our word “century” comes from the word [for] hundred.
The English word “millennium” comes from two Latin words: mille which is a “thousand.” and annum which is a “year.” So millen-annum, “millennium” is a thousand year period. It is a time period just like an hour is a time period, a year is a time period, a century is a time period; so a “millennium” is a time period. But so preeminent and so celestially glorious is this prophesied millennium that we have come to refer to it as the millennium.
It begins after Satan is bound, after the great battle of Armageddon [Revelation 19:11-21, 20:1-3] and it ends after a thousand years, when Satan is loosed for a little season [Revelation 20:7-10]. It is a new age, it is a new order. And there are many things concerning it that we cannot conceive, we cannot understand, and there’s no need to try. I cannot conceive of a world—we cannot conceive of a world without sin, where Satan is bound, where righteousness reigns; and many of the scholars believe, in which there is no death.
These things to us are inconceivable because we have never known a world that was not sowed down with sin. And our lives have never known a time when we did not battle against it. Death, cemeteries, weeping, crying, bereavement, separation, despair; these are the common lots of every life. But in the golden age, these will be taken away [Revelation 21:3-4]. We can hardly conceive what it shall be like, and there are a thousand unanswerable questions concerning it. But it shall be glorious, even as the Lord God hath written it large on the pages of His Holy Word.
Another thing about the millennium; no one shall enter it who is a sinner. All who enter that holy and heavenly era, that new age of God, shall be saved, shall be washed by the blood of the Lamb [Revelation 1:5]. There shall be no one enter it who is not converted, who is not saved, who has not been washed and regenerated in the blood of the Crucified One. It is the saints who inherit the kingdom [Matthew 25:34].
For example in Daniel 7, “But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever” [Daniel 7:18], and he repeats it. He says it again in the twenty-second verse, “The time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” [Daniel in 7:22]. And he repeated it again in the twenty-seventh verse, “And the kingdom shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High” [Daniel in 7:27]. All who enter that millennial kingdom are saved. They are regenerated by the blood of the Lamb of God. And no rejecter, and no blasphemer, and no unbeliever shall have any part in the glorious coming kingdom of our Lord [1 Corinthians 6:9-10].
Now in preparation for that, there are two great judgments that the people in this earth shall go through before that millennial kingdom dawns, before it comes. First, Israel shall go through a judgment. God’s chosen people who now live in unbelief and who gather in their services in the rejection of Christ; Israel will go through a judgment and no Israelite that refuses the Lord Christ shall ever enter that millennium. In the twentieth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, there is described that judgment that Israel shall go through:
As I live, says the Lord God, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein you were scattered, with a mighty hand, with an 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 I will plead with you, says the Lord God.
And 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 . . . and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord God.
As a shepherd puts his rod, his staff, over the door of the sheepfold and as the sheep go through one by one, and he calls their names, so the Lord says, “I am going to bring you, all of my people Israel, into the wilderness. And I am going to plead with you there in the wilderness. And I am going to cause you to pass under the rod. And it shall be, as I judge you, one by one, there shall be no rebels, and there shall be none that transgress against Me. There will be no rejecters nor unbelievers that shall enter into the land” [Ezekiel 20:35-38]. This is the great judgment of the people of Israel, before the days of the millennium.
Now there is the judgment of the Gentiles. No Gentile shall enter the millennium, the kingdom of God, who is not saved, born again, converted. And the judgment of the Gentiles is described in Matthew 25:
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 Gentiles—
You have it translated in the King James Version “nations”:
All the Gentiles and God shall separate them, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats…
And these shall enter the glorious kingdom of our Lord, and these shall be shut out and for ever.
[from Matthew 25:31-35, 46]
No one shall enter that kingdom who is not saved, born again, washed clean and white in the blood of the Crucified One [Revelation 20:6].
That kingdom is not temporary; it is merged into the great final kingdom of the Lord God Almighty in the eternity of the eternities. There is a perpetuity of that kingdom that lasts forever and forever, and Daniel multiplies the “forevers” [Daniel 7:18]. We are not to think that Christ shall come into this world and established His kingdom, and then Satan shall destroy it. Not so; not so.
I cannot explain to you why God allows the loosing again of Satan [Revelation 20:3, 7]. Having placed him in the abyss [Revelation 20:3], why doesn’t God keep him there? I cannot understand the purposes of God in the creation of that archangel, nor can I understand the presence of iniquity in God’s creation. I just know there is something in the economy of God and in the government of heaven that necessitates this “trial by fire” that we go through as we wrestle against the dissimulation and the deception of this evil one.
So I cannot understand, I cannot explain the loosing of Satan for a season [Revelation 20:3, 7-8]. But I know this from reading the Bible: that when Christ establishes that kingdom, it shall never be destroyed. It is an everlasting kingdom, and our Lord has in it an everlasting dominion [Daniel 7:13-14].
And we read that again in the fifteenth chapter of the First Corinthian letter. At this end time, at this end time—when Christ, having already raised and raised with the firstfruits, and entered into heaven—at the end times afterwards, they shall be raised that are Christ’s at His coming; then the end ones, then the gleanings [1 Corinthians 15:23].
Then He shall deliver up the kingdom of God to the Father;
when He hath put down all rule and all authority and power.
For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.
[1 Corinthians 15:24-25]
When that kingdom is established, and in the purposes of God has run its magnificent and triumphant course, then Christ shall offer it unto God; beautiful, holy, perfect, even as God Himself could recreate us and this world. And then in the following, in the Revelation, you will find that the throne in heaven is the throne of God and of the Lamb [Revelation 22:3].
Now let us speak briefly, and it will have to be so briefly, let us speak of the blessings of the millennial kingdom. First of all, we shall speak of the blessings of God for Israel, God’s chosen people. Then we shall speak of the blessings of God for us, who are Gentiles. Then we shall speak of the blessings of God in this whole creation, when God remakes it in the animal world, in the whole base and topography of this planet. Then we shall speak of the blessings of the kingdoms as they are dedicated to the honor and the glory of our living Lord who reigns personally, in presence over His people who have placed their trust in Him [Revelation 3:21].
First of all with regard to the elect of God, the children of the Lord, the people of Israel: they are going to be restored to their home and to their land. Amos 9:14-15:
And I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel . . .
And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.
This is just one out of a multitude of passages where God says His people are going to be given that land for an inheritance forever and no one shall ever take them from it. Not only is Israel to be restored to the land, but they are to be regenerated; they are to be converted. They are to accept the Lord Christ as their Savior and their Messiah. Listen to the Word of God in the prophet Jeremiah, chapter 23:
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
In His days, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely;
and this is His name whereby He shall be called: The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that Israel shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought us up out of the land of Egypt;
But they shall say, the Lord liveth, which brought us up and led us out of the north country, and from all the countries whither we were driven.
And God says, And they shall dwell in their own land.
Oh, the number of passages that I could read, but I haven’t time. I speak of one other. This is from Paul. In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans, beginning at verse 26:
Blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. But, but—
Beginning at verse 26:
There is a time when all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
For this is My covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins.
Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election—
The divine sovereign purpose of God:
they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes…
For the gifts and calling of God are without turning, without changing, without repentance.
God made some great promises unto Abraham, unto Isaac, unto Jacob, unto David, through the mouths of His holy prophets. God made some great prophets to those people—some great promises to those people. He made an Abrahamic covenant with them [Genesis 12:1-3, 15:18-21, 17:2-9]. He made a Davidic covenant with them [2 Samuel 7:11-16, 1 Chronicles 17:10-14]. He made a Palestinian covenant with them [Deuteronomy 30:1-10]. He made a covenant of a new covenant with them [Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:6-13]; and God doesn’t change [Malachi 3:6]. Man may change; he may forget what he has promised, but not the Lord. And every promise that God has made to Israel God will faithfully keep. And some of these days, in that millennial kingdom, Israel shall have a worthy, a praiseworthy and a believing heart.
The day is coming, says the prophet Zechariah [Zechariah 14]. And the day is coming, said the apostle Paul, when Israel shall turn in faith and accept the Lord Christ as their Messiah [Romans 11:25-26], shall mourn over their rejection of Him [Zechariah 12:10], and God shall make a fountain of healing for them [Zechariah 13:1], and they shall be forgiven and shall be saved and shall have a part in the great millennial kingdom of our Lord [Jeremiah 32:40-44]. There are blessings for Israel.
There are blessings for the Gentiles, for us:
It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountain and shall be exalted above the hills; and all the Gentiles shall flow unto it!
This is the prophet Isaiah in his second chapter:
And many people shall go and say, Come. Come ye, let us go up to the mount of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob…
And He shall judge among the Gentiles. He shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks:nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
God’s blessings upon the Gentiles, upon us in the millennial kingdom.
I want to take to take time to read to you how God has included us Gentiles in the kingdom. And especially do I read this because of the terrible bitterness that is likely to ignite any moment, any day, any hour over there in Palestine. You look at this day, “In that day,” this is Isaiah :
In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve the Lord with the Assyrians.
In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:
Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance.
Can you imagine a thing like that? Think of the bitterness over there now with those people. And think of the years of hatred ever since Ishmael and Isaac grew to despise one another [Genesis 21:9]. From that day until this has there been that same war between Israel and the Arab; the Egyptians, all those people over there. “But there is coming a time,” says the Lord when the Lord of hosts shall bless them all saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, and blessed be Assyria the work of My hands, and blessed be Israel Mine inheritance” [Isaiah 19:25], all of us together in the glorious and ultimate kingdom of our Lord.
But we must hasten. We must hasten. There is, in that millennial kingdom, there is a new creation. One of the most sublime and meaningful of all the passages in the Word of God is in this eighth chapter of Romans. I suppose the greatest chapter in the Bible is the eighth chapter of Romans. Now listen to Paul as he describes what God is going to do, “The earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation, for the unveiling, of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to futility,” to destruction and waste like you see it now, not willingly, “not willingly…the creation himself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, we have the firstfruits of the Spirit; even we ourselves groan within in ourselves” [Romans 8:19-23], waiting for that glorious day when God shall raise us up and when God shall recreate this whole world.
Now in the prophecies, and we don’t have time even to read them, in the prophecies you have a description of what it is going to be like when God recreates this whole earth. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . and the lion shall eat straw like the ox [Isaiah 11:6-7].
God never intended for this, what you call “the “balance of nature” such as we have it in this world. God never intended for these animals to eat one another, to lie in wait, and to destroy and to drink blood! God never intended that. That’s the mark, that’s the sign of sin in this world. And God never intended for one man to kill another man, much less for one nation to go to war and slay millions of his fellow men. God never intended that.
The Lord made this creation to be filled with light, and goodness, and glory, and holiness, and righteousness, and love, and happiness. And in that re-creation, all that we lost in Eden [Genesis 3:14-24, Romans 8:22-23], God shall give us back again. And so this beautiful word; the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the lion and the fatling, all lying down together; and that vicious, ferocious, carnivorous lion is now a vegetarian, he is eating straw like an ox [Isaiah 11:6-7]. Oh, what God has prepared in that millennial day!
But we are not done, if the Lord will give us time even to say these things; we’re not done. In that day all of the disease and all of the futility and despair whereby our bodies are afflicted and laid low; all of that is going to be gone. In the thirty-fifth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, for example, the prophet says:
The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Then shall the lame man leap as a hart… in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert, and the tongues of the dumb shall sing about it.
Why, it’s going to be the most marvelous thing! Something—it’s something it just took God to make for us, this glorious day of our Lord.
Now this last little word about Jesus, about Jesus: blessings in the millennium for God’s chosen people Israel. Blessings in the millennium abounding for us who are Gentiles; blessings in the millennium for all God’s creation—even the animal world shall be remade—blessing in the kingdom for our glorious and reigning Lord. In the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Zechariah:
His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, His feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives . . .
And the Lord thou God shall come, and all the saints with Him . . .
And it shall come to pass, that at the evening time it shall be light.
And in that day, shall living waters shall go out . . .
And the Lord shall be King over all the earth.
This is what God has promised for His Son. He shall be King over all the earth. And in the first chapter of the Book of Luke, the angel Gabriel from heaven said to Mary:
This Son, whom you are to call Jesus, He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest.
And the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David:
and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of His kingdom there shall be no end.
That’s the prophecy that Gabriel brought from the courts of heaven itself.
“The Lord God shall give Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” [Luke 1:33]. And that is the ultimate and final consummation that Paul described in the second chapter of his Philippian letter. Because Christ bowed Himself under the weight of our sin and became obedient unto the death of the cross [Philippians 2:8], therefore:
Therefore hath God also highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things in the netherworld;
And that every tongue should confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God.
And that glorious consummation is the Revelation. And when the seventh angel sounded, there were great voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of this world that now is in the hands of a usurper…” [Revelation 11:15] In the second Corinthian letter, the fourth chapter and the fourth verse, Paul says “Satan is the god of this world” [2 Corinthians 4:4], he is a usurper! God never intended it like that. He shall be cast out! [Revelation 12:9]. And the rightful King and our rightful Lord shall ascend the throne of His father, David [Luke 1:32]. And amidst the chorus of angels and the adoration of His saints shall He reign over all the work of God’s hands [Revelation 11:15].
Why, there’s a triumph, there’s a glory, there’s a lift, there’s a loft, there’s a hallelujah in the message of the Son of God, beyond anything that heart could imagine or tongue could describe.
All hail the power of Jesus’ name;
Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all.
You chosen seed of Israel’s race,
Ye ransomed from the fall.
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all.
[“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”; Edward Perronet, 1779]
Dear people, this is no beginning of all that God says, this is just a little introduction of what the Lord hath prepared for those who place their trust in Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].
Now while we sing our song of appeal, somebody you give his heart to Jesus [Romans 10:8-13]. A couple you to put your life into the fellowship of our church [Hebrews 10:24-25]; a family you to come, a child, a youth, one somebody you, while we sing our song of appeal, would you make it now? In this balcony round, from side to side, while we sing our song and while our people prayerfully wait, you come. “Pastor, today I give you my hand; I give my heart to the Lord Jesus” [Ephesians 2:8]. Or “Today we are putting our lives in the church and here we stand.” Would you do it now? Would you make it today, while all of us stand and sing?