The Golden Millennium
August 5th, 1984 @ 8:15 AM
THE GOLDEN MILLENNIUM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-5-1984 8:15 a.m.
Thank you, choir and orchestra, and God bless the great host of you sharing this hour with us in the First Baptist Church of Dallas on radio. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Golden Millennium. It is an exposition of the last part of the sixty-fifth chapter of Isaiah. And if you will turn to that, you can follow the sermon as we follow the Word of the Lord.
Isaiah chapter 65, beginning at verse 17 to the end of the chapter. Isaiah chapter 65, beginning at verse 17:
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 labor 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 ox: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the Lord.
The golden tomorrow, The Golden Millennium.
This passage I have just read is a piece and a part of the fabric of the whole Word of God. It is always up, it is always optimistic; its tone is ever victorious. There’s a greater day coming. A golden age is yet in the future. You see this in contrast with the ancient world in which these prophecies were delivered. Even the Greeks, their golden age was in the past. Their heroes lived long time ago. Plato’s Atlantis was an island continent beyond the Pillars of Hercules, beyond the gates of Gibraltar, and was a great, perfect civilization that now had sunk into the bottom of the sea. It was long ago. And the Greeks were not alone in that persuasion; the whole ancient primeval people were alike. Their heroes were dead, their golden age was behind.
Just the opposite is true in the prophetic Word, in the preaching of the apostles, in the whole Word of the Lord: the great day is in the future, the golden age is yet to arrive. Our marvelous presence in the goodness of God is something to look forward to; and all life is filled with optimism and victory and glory, no matter what the circumstances of the time may be. That’s universal in the Word of the Lord. The Book of Genesis closes with the death of Joseph [Genesis 50:26], and Joseph gathers his brethren around him and swears, makes them in an oath to swear before God that they will take his bones and carry him back to Canaan’s Promised Land [Genesis 50:25], “For,” Joseph says, “God will surely visit you” [Genesis 50:24]. There’s a great day coming.
It was typical in the life and work of Moses. Alone on Mt. Nebo, there to be buried in a sepulcher known to God, but Moses gathers his people and says to them, “The Lord will raise up another Prophet . . . like unto me [Deuteronomy 18:15]; and to Him shall all of the gathering be” [Genesis 49:10]. There’s another day, there’s another time, there’s a great Prophet coming. Jeremiah was like that. When the people were destroyed and their homeland wasted and Jerusalem plowed underneath the sod, and they were in captivity, Jeremiah sent word to them in their slavery in Babylon, “God will surely visit you; and after seventy years, you can come back home” [Jeremiah 29:10]. There’s a great day coming!
The apostle John lived beyond the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but beyond the debris and the waste of the Holy City, he lifted up his eyes and saw a New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven [Revelation 21:1-2]. It is everlastingly that. If he’s a prophet in the Bible, if he’s an apostle preaching the gospel, if he’s a child of God, always his face is lifted upward. The great day is yet to come; the marvelous visitation from heaven, the golden tomorrow.
Well, can we share in that kind of victorious praise and persuasion? Is life everlastingly concluded in the grave, in death? And is the course of history forever to run in war and blood? And is the scientist right? There’s nothing that awaits us but either this earth to fall into the sun, or the sun to burn out and the earth turn into a solid block of frozen ice? Is that the destiny of this earth? And is the end of our life nothing but the midnight darkness of the grave? The Word of God is so different; always there is victory before us, there is optimistic view of what God is going to do. And the reason for it lies in just that; this golden tomorrow is something that God does.
Look at the text now. Look at these “I’s.” Look at these personal pronouns: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth . . . Be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing . . . and I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people” [Isaiah 65:17-19]. In that few words there are one, two, three, four, five personal pronouns. This is something that God does. It’s not man, nor the work of man; it’s the work of the great, omnipotent, almighty Creator: the golden tomorrow, the marvelous millennium toward which we inevitably turn our faces—this is a work of God.
When I was a youth growing up, every preacher I ever heard and every teacher I ever had was a postmillennialist. They were going to “preach in” the kingdom. They were going to bring about the conversion of the world. They were going to remake humanity, and they were going to bring in a new civilization and a new order, a new national life, a new social life, a new political life, new economic life. It was wonderful to listen to them. The only thing was, God never said that; they said it. This is what God says:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. Men shall be lovers of their own selves; covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemous, disobedient, unthankful, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof . . . Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
[2 Timothy 3:1-5, 7, 13]
That’s what Paul said! It’s just in another world from the world in which I grew up as a boy. This new creation is something that God does. It is the personal pronoun, “I create” and “I will rejoice in My people” [Isaiah 65:17, 19].
Well then, how do you have other than discouragement in your own work, if this is a work of God, and we don’t bring it to pass? The answer is very simple: God uses us to call out a remnant of His people, and it is always a remnant that enter into the kingdom of our Lord and into the glorious millennium; not the whole world, but those who turn, and repent, and believe, and accept, and open their hearts heavenward and God-ward [Isaiah 1:9; Hebrews 4:6]. As Paul said in that same second letter of Timothy, “To those who love His appearing” [2 Timothy 4:8]. Jesus is precious, and the Word of the Lord comes in power [2 Timothy 4:2-4].
When I look at this passage and see what God is doing, I sense in it, and see it confirmed in the Word of the Lord, three great movements in human history, guided by the hand of God. “Behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people” [Isaiah 65:18-19]. When I read that, I immediately sense in the Scriptures and in this passage before us three tremendous movements in history, in our lives, guided by the hand of the Lord. Number one: there is an upward movement, an upward movement in history. God said to His people, “Lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” [Luke 21:28]. There’s an upward movement in history; looking up to God, believing in the Lord, trusting in the Lord, and finally it culminates in the calling out of the dead from their graves and the catching up of God’s people in the rapture [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. An upwardness in it: always upward, always this way, God’s way, heaven way, “Lift up your heads” [Luke 21:28].
There’s also a downwardness in human history. These that are lost, who spurn the overtures of the grace of God, have no other way to look but into the grave. They look down. There’s no upwardness for them. They look down into the grave, they look down into perdition, they look down into damnation, they look down into hell; they look down! Their lives are down! Their hope is down! Their future is down! They look down! And outside of Christ there’s no other way to look. The end of life is the end of all hope. The treasures that they own are here in this world, and they leave them behind. The whole course of life for them is downward, looking down!
The third great movement in human history guided by the hand of God is one of forwardness, onwardness. And we see that in the golden millennium that the Lord has prepared for His people. And there are two peoples who are going forward to that ultimate and final and victorious day: Israel has a judgment, and according to the Word of the Lord, Israel will be prepared by the Lord Himself to enter that glorious millennium. “It shall come to pass,” He says in [Zechariah], “that in all the land, two parts shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on My name, and I will hear them: I will say, These are My people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God” [Zechariah 13:8-9]. And in Ezekiel here, in Ezekiel 20:33-38, and in Ezekiel 36:24-38, there is recorded the judgment of Israel as they enter into the golden millennium of the Lord.
Not all Israel will enter into the millennium of the Lord. Nobody enters into the millennium of the Lord except the saved, those who accept the Lord. And in the end time, two thirds of Israel will refuse to believe in the Lord, refuse to accept the Lord. But one third will; and that one third, being tried by fire, will enter into the golden tomorrow of God [Zechariah 13:8-9].
There is also a Gentile judgment. In the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew there is described all the Gentiles gathered before the Lord [Matthew 25:31-46]. And they will be judged. And the people that loved Jesus and serve the Lord, and have heard the gospel and repented, they are set on the right side. They are called God’s sheep, God’s flock, God’s people [Matthew 25:33]. And those that have refused the overtures of grace and said, “No,” to the goodness and love of God and the atonement of Christ and the forgiveness of sin, they’re on the left side. And they are called the goats. And they are sent away into everlasting punishment and perdition. These die. These are the downward ones [Matthew 25:33, 41-46]. And these, on the other hand, on the right hand, enter into the glorious millennium [Matthew 25:33-40]. This is the prospect that we have in our blessed Savior: a glorious day yet to come for those who trust in Him.
Now, we have here in our beautiful text, we have a description of that marvelous millennium. It says that the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying [Isaiah 65:19]. It’s going to be a time of infinite rejoicing and infinite gladness and infinite happiness. Everything will be perfect. The reason for that is, Satan is bound [Revelation 20:1-2]; and it’s because of our fallen nature in the temptation of Satan that we fall into crying and weeping, and finally death. Milton began his Paradise Lost,
Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all its woe.
Satan brought that in; the serpent introduced us to that. Our first parents fell into that [Genesis 3:1-6]; and the world since has been one of weeping, and crying, and sorrow, and agony, and sickness, and illness, and separation, and death. But in this glorious tomorrow there’ll be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain, “for these things are all passed away” [Revelation 21:4].
Then there shall be no more thence an infant of days,
nor an old man who hath not filled his days:
for the child shall die a hundred years old;
the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed . . .
As the days of a tree are the days of My people,
and Mine elect shall enjoy the work of their hands
[Isaiah 65:20, 22]
It was not God’s will that death come into our lives; that is an interloper. Death is a trespasser. And in this golden day, the only child that will die is one that reaches the age of accountability at a hundred years, and is rebellious against God [Isaiah 65:20]. All of the people shall live in the presence of the Lord. That was God’s intention.
You know, it’s a strange thing—did you ever think about it? God said, “In the day that thou sinnest, in the day that you eat thereof, in that day thou shalt surely die” [Genesis 2:17]. And a day in the sight of the Lord is a thousand years [Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8]. No antediluvian ever lived to be a thousand years old. Adam died when he was nine hundred thirty [Genesis 5:5]. Methuselah died when he was nine hundred sixty-nine [Genesis 5:27]. But here in the millennium, all of them will live a thousand years, at least. “Their life is like a tree: the days of Mine elect shall be long” [Isaiah 65:22]. It will be a glorious addition to our lives. In Isaiah 33:24, “No man will say, I am sick”; there won’t be any sickness. In Isaiah 35:5-6, “The blind will be seeing, and the deaf will be hearing, and the lame will leap like the hart.”
Now I think of Richard Baxter, one of the great, great Puritan preachers; suffered so much, imprisoned so many times. Richard Baxter lay dying, and a friend came to see him. And the friend said to him, “Richard, how are you?” And he said, “I’m almost well,” and died that moment. “I’m almost well.” I think of that blind saint and that dear crippled child of God tied on either side of the stake, being burned. And as the flame began to rise, the blind man begin to wince, and the crippled man on the other side of the stake said to him, “Courage, my brother, this fire will heal both of us!” There’s no blind in glory. There are no crippled in the world to come. There’s no sickness, there’s no sorrow, there’s no crying, there’s no death [Revelation 21:4]. This is God’s hope for the morrow.
Will you look again? “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the lion will eat straw like an ox”; and the earth will be so fertile that the serpent finds his food in the dust of the ground”; They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain” [Isaiah 65:25]. It’s going to be a glorious re-creation; the intention and purpose of God. In the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, it says that the whole world was subject to the curse, all of it. There was travail and agony in all of God’s creation [Romans 8:22]. In the animal kingdom, in the vegetable kingdom, all of it fell; not just humanity, the whole creation fell. But in this golden tomorrow, there’ll be a new vegetable world, the earth will be prolific, fecund, fertile; and the animal kingdom will be remade. There’ll be no carnivorous animals eating each other, attacking each other; it’ll be beautiful. It’ll be at peace.
And there’s no communists in it:
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.
[Isaiah 65: 22]
Communism is, the state takes everything away from you; the state owns everything that you have, the state takes everything you possess. And you are pawns of the state; that’s communism! But in the golden millennium, “Each man,” according to Micah, “will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree” [Micah 4:4]. Each one of us will have our own possession and our own place, and we’ll work, and we’ll have the fruit of our labor; and the state won’t come and take it away from us. There are no communists in the kingdom of God, and there’s no communists in the golden tomorrow. Thank God for the thought!
One other thing, my time’s already gone. Jesus, in His precious presence, will be with us. “It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” [Isaiah 65:24]. The lovely, marvelous, beneficent, benedictory presence of our Lord will be our Leader, will be our King, will be our visible Savior. There He is. I can’t think of such a thing. I can’t imagine such a thing. And what the Book says: “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” [Isaiah 65:24].
When the Lord came the first time, it was so tragic, so sad. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” [John 1:11]. They were disappointed in Him. They were looking for some kind of a Messiah that would lead them free from the Roman yoke. And the apostles were looking to be seated on His right hand and on His left hand [Mark 10:37]. And when the course of His life finally led to Calvary, they all forsook Him, and fled [Matthew 26:56]. And they mistreated Him, and they buffeted Him, and finally crucified Him [Matthew 27:26-50]. But when He comes the second time [Hebrews9:28], and when this golden day opens before us, there’ll be no misunderstanding of our Lord, and there’ll be no rejection. But according to the Word of God, because He died for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3], and paid the penalty for our transgressions [Isaiah 53:5], it says that the whole world will bow down before Him. All of the world will bow down before Him, all the world, all of us.” And every tongue will confess that He is the Lord, He is the Lord” [Philippians 2:10-11].
Think what a beautiful, beautiful thing that will be, when Jesus is King, King of every heart, of every life, of every people and nation and tribe under the sun. Think of what a day that will be. And, it says here, that He will anticipate, He will anticipate every need: “I will answer, even before they call; and before they speak, I will hear” [Isaiah 65:24]. I just, I just can’t imagine anything as dear and as sweet as when God anticipates, when our Lord previews everything that we would need, and He provides for it even before we ask, even before we pray, even before we speak. I can’t imagine such a thing so dear, so heavenly, so precious. God in heaven, could it ever be?
I was reading one time about a man who married a beautiful girl. And he built for her a beautiful home; their home, their home. And after he had built his home for her, and after their wedding, why, he brought her into the home to show her what he had done. And he carried that new bride that he’d just married; he carried her through the beautiful house that he’d built. And he showed her the living room, and he showed her the kitchen, and he showed her the den, and he showed her the bedroom, and he showed her all the things of the house. And then after he’d shown her all the beautiful things of the house that he provided for her, he took her to a room and he said, “Now this room is just for you. There’ll be times when you want to get away and there’ll be times when you want to be alone. And there’ll be times when you want to pray and there’ll be times when you want to be just with God, and this room is just for you. It is for no one else, and no one is to enter this room; it is just for you.” And when the girl saw all of the house and finally this room just for her, she burst into tears. And he said, “Why should you cry?” And she replied, “I just cannot but overflow in my heart, thinking, seeing, all the things you have thought for me. And the beautiful house, and anticipated my every dream and my every need, and now this—just for me. It’s just more than my heart can bear.”
You just think of what God has prepared for us. He calls it a mansion, He calls it a mansion [John 14:1-3]; and He anticipates our every desire, our every prayer. And even before we speak, He answers [Isaiah 65:24]. Lord, Lord, how could such a thing be?
Were you here Sunday night, a week or so ago? And the Frazees and I sang that song; do you remember it?
The Lord has been so good to me,
I feel like traveling on.
Until those mansions I can see
I feel like traveling on.
Yes, I feel like traveling on
I feel like traveling on;
The Lord has been so good to me
I feel like traveling on.
[from “I Feel Like Traveling On,” James David Vaughn]
That’s what it is to be a Christian. Some greater thing, some better thing, some golden tomorrow, God hath prepared for us who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].
That’s why we make appeal. My brother, my sister, to give your heart to the Lord, to look up to Him, to walk in the faith, to love Jesus, to be a part of the family of God is the most infinite blessing God could ever bestow upon us. And that’s our invitation to you. “Accepting Jesus as a Savior, Lord, here I come” [Romans 10:9-10]. “Putting my life in the fellowship of this wonderful church, I’m on the way.” As God shall press the appeal to your heart, make the decision now, and when we stand to sing our invitation hymn, down one of these stairways, down one of these aisles, “Here I am, pastor, I’m coming now.” God bless you, angels attend you in the way as you answer with your life, while we stand and while we sing.
THE GOLDEN MILLENNIUM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-5-84I. The undying hope of the people of God
A. Ancient pagans looked back for their golden age
B. Prophets and apostles look to more glorious future (Genesis 50:24-25, Deuteronomy 18:15, Jeremiah 23:11-12, 29:10, Revelation 22)II. Established by God, not by man
A. Postmillennialists believed they would bring the millennium (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 7-13)
B. Always a remnant (2 Timothy 4:8)III. Three great movements in history guided by hand of God
A. Upward (Luke 21:28)
1. Judgment for Israel (Zechariah 13:8-9, Ezekiel 20:33-38, 28:25-26, 36:24-38, Amos 9:14-15, Isaiah 43:1-7, 65:18-19 2:2-4, Micah 4:1-4, Jeremiah 23:3-8, 24:6-7)
2. Judgment for the Gentiles (Matthew 25:31-46)IV. Description of the age
A. No more crying (Isaiah 65:19b, Revelation 21:4)
B. Life without sickness, age (Isaiah 63:20, 33:24, 35:5-6)
C. Curse removed (Genesis 3:17-19, Romans 8:19-23, Isaiah 65:25, 11:1-4, 55:13, 35:1)