The Golden Millennium
August 5th, 1984 @ 10:50 AM
THE GOLDEN MILLENNIUM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-5-84 10:50 a.m.
And welcome the great multitudes of you who share the hour with us on radio and television. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Golden Millennium, the glorious tomorrow.
The message is an exposition of the latter part of the sixty-fifth chapter of Isaiah. And if you would like to turn to the chapter, you can follow the message through its course. Isaiah, chapter 65 and we shall begin reading at verse 17 to the end of the chapter [Isaiah 65:17-25]. 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 a hundred years old; but the sinner being a 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 an 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 glorious millennium. It is so typical of the prophet and the apostle and the people of God that they look forward, and upward, and onward, and outward to a more glorious day. If it is of God, and if a man is speaking for the Lord, his message is always one of upness, one of optimism, one of coming victory, and triumph.
That’s the difference between the prophet of God and all of the [soothsayers] and philosophers and seers of the old world, the pagan world. To them, the golden age was past and their heroes lived long ago. Typical of that pagan medieval attitude is the Greek. The Greek philosopher and the Greek teacher looked backward for their great and golden age. Their heroes lived long ago.
Even Plato’s Atlantis, an island continent that was depicted as one of glory and beauty and peace and triumph—even Plato’s Atlantis was an island continent beyond the Pillars of Hercules, beyond the gates of Gibraltar, and was sunk into the bottom of the sea.
Their dreams were fulfilled long ago, and their golden age was yesterday. Just the opposite is found in the Bible and the Word of the Lord. Whenever the prophet speaks, whenever the apostle preaches, whenever the Bible opens the revelation, it is always toward a more glorious future. The great age is yet to come. And they lived in that undying hope and everlasting optimism.
The Book of Genesis closes with the death of Joseph [Genesis 50:26]. And it says that Joseph took an oath of his brethren, of his Israelitish people, and made them swear that they would take his bones back to Canaan, the Promised Land. “For,” said Joseph, “God will surely visit you” [Genesis 50:24-25]. There is a great day coming for His people.
When Moses faced the ultimate decision of God that he die alone in Moab [Deuteronomy 3:23-27], and the Lord buried him in a sepulcher that no man ever knew [Deuteronomy 34:5-6], Moses said to his people, “God will raise up a Prophet like unto me. And to Him shall the gathering of the people be and to Him will you hearken. God has a greater Prophet than I who will arise” [Deuteronomy 18:15-18]. The great Hero is yet to come.
It was so in the life of Jeremiah, who saw his people destroyed and taken into slavery. The nation ruined, the capital city plowed under the sod. But Jeremiah sent word to the captives in Babylon saying, “After seventy years, God will surely visit you [Jeremiah 29:10]. There is a greater day coming. Lift up your hearts, lift up your heads. The golden age is before us.”
It was so in the life of the apostle John who lived beyond the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Roman legions. Above the waste of the city, “he saw the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” [Revelation 21:2]. Always in the Scriptures, the golden age is yet to come.
Our heroes are to appear in the future. There’s a marvelous era in God’s grace. Lift up your hearts. Live in triumph and victory. Live in hope and in optimism. The golden age is before us.
Now there is a reason why the apostle and the prophet and the man of God always speaks in terms of the future and of the victory and triumph that lies before us. He says, “This day and this age, and this glory is to be visited upon us because God is doing it, not man; it is a work of the Lord God.”
Just look at the personal pronouns as he begins this marvelous prophecy of the new heaven and the new earth: “Behold, I create new heavens and earth . . . Be ye glad and rejoice 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]. God does it, not man. It is a creation of God. In the Book of the Revelation, if you follow its course, in the first chapter is our redeemed and glorified, risen and ascended Lord Jesus [Revelation 1:9-20]. In the second and third chapters, the course of the church, the seven epochs in the history of the church [Revelation 2:1-3:22]. Then in the fourth chapter, the rapture of God’s people in the heaven, and the church disappears [Revelation 4:1-11]. Then from 5 through 19, all of the judgments of the tribulation [Revelation 5:1-19:21], then in chapter 19 the Lord comes [Revelation 19:11-14], and Satan is bound for a thousand years [Revelation 20:1-2]—the golden millennium. Always it is God who does it. The Lord’s right hand brings it into realization and reality.
That is so different from the way I was brought up. When I was a youth and attending the services of the church, and when I was a young man and attending school, all of the preachers that I heard, and all the teachers I ever had were post-millennialist. They believed they were going to preach the kingdom of God in. They were going to recreate the world. There would be a new society, a new order, a new economic system, a new political life, a new nation; there was to be a golden millennium by the efforts of men.
That was increasingly strange to me in the face of what God says through the apostle Paul. He says, “This know, that in the last days perilous times shall come. Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient, unthankful, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. Traitors, high-handed, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, ever learning and never coming 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]—does that sound to you like the millennium? Does that sound to you like something we’re going to bring to pass? When God says here that the end days are going to be tragic beyond all description? We don’t bring it in. We’re not able; we’re not capable.
One of the observations that anybody can make in human history is this: there are far, far, far more lost, there are more infidels, there are more pagans, there are more unbelievers, there are more lost in the world today than there ever were. And after two thousand years of Christian history, it is increasingly lost. It is increasingly infidel. It is increasingly violent. It is increasingly filled with wars, and rumors of wars, and fears of wars, and terrorists, and blood; the whole world in the grip of crime and sin and violence and death.
Well, then what hope do you have? We have the hope of the gospel. We have the hope of the elective choosing, calling, saving power of God. In this same second letter of Timothy out of which I’ve just read, he speaks of those who respond to the gospel and those who love His appearing [2 Timothy 4:7-8]. There will always be a remnant, who love God, who serve the Lord. And that is the great optimism, and persuasion, and hope in the heart of any man, who preaches the gospel.
Not everyone will respond, not everyone will turn, not everyone will give his heart to Jesus. Not everyone will accept the Lord, but some will; always, there are some that will. I can’t help but remember something in the life of Spurgeon. Spurgeon was a Calvinist. Spurgeon believed in the sovereignty of God. Spurgeon believed that it was God who saved us and not we ourselves. And a man came up to Spurgeon and said, “If I believed that, I wouldn’t preach. I wouldn’t try.”
And Spurgeon replied, “My brother, it is just the opposite. When I preach the gospel, I may not be able to win all who hear me, but God will always give me some. There will always be some who will be saved. There will be some who will turn.”
I was talking yesterday to the man, the Chinese who leads our Chinese chapel, and as I stood with him visiting, and we were talking together, he said, “There are a great many Chinese who are coming to the city of Dallas.” And he said, “They are hard to reach. They are involved and engrossed in other things.”
But I said to him, “My brother, look around you.” He had several Chinese families around him. They were down here for some reason. He had several Chinese families around. I said, “Listen, it may be hard, and it may be difficult, and the Chinese that come to Dallas may be involved in other things, but, God will always give you some. Always. Always.”
It is the presence and the power and the saving grace of the sovereignty of God that promises us an ultimate victory; these who love His appearing [2 Timothy 4:8].
Not only is this a marvelous persuasion that God places in our hearts, that He is going to intervene in human history, and He is going to give to us this glorious new age, but also, He says that there will be in this earth a rejoicing people. He will create a New Jerusalem and fill her with gladness and joy [Isaiah 65:17-19, Revelation 21:2].
There’s going to be a kingdom of our Lord, and there’s going to be a capital for that kingdom. And there’s going to be a King who sits as Lord and sovereign of all God’s universe [Revelation 20:4]. That’s the millennial kingdom, when Jesus comes [Matthew 25:31].
Now that’s a remarkable thing. As I think of that kingdom of our Lord, I see in history three great movements guided by the hand of God. Number one: there is always in history an upwardness in it, a moving higher in it. It is always present. That’s God’s hand among His people.
For example, He will say to us, “Lift up your heads, lift up your hearts, your redemption draweth nigh” [Luke 21:28]. There is an upwardness in God’s sovereign grace in human history. There is a call from the sainted dead, and they are raised from the grave [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. That’s God.
There is also a catching-up on the part of the people of God, who abide and remain until the coming of Jesus [1 Corinthians 15:51-54]; always an upness in it. A call to the sainted dead out of their graves. A catching-up of God a people in rapture, the resurrection and the rapture; up, always up! [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17].
And our people who look in faith and trust to the Lord Jesus have that upness in them. It’s a part, it’s a characteristic of the Christian heart, and the Christian faith, and the Christian life. There’s an upness in it.
I may die, if He tarries then I shall die. But that’s just an opening into heaven. It’s just God’s way of taking me out of the house of corruption, and flesh, and blood, and sin, and death and raising me up into glory. There’s always an upness among the people of God.
The contrary is true. The second movement I see in the hand of God in human history: there’s always a downness in it, always a downness in it. The man who is lost, the man who is not a Christian, not saved, he looks down, always down. He doesn’t have any other way to look but down. He looks down into the grave. He looks down into death. He looks down into the darkness of midnight.
All of his hopes are here in this world. All of his treasures are here. And he leaves them behind, and he has nothing to look forward to but death and darkness and the night and downness.
There’s downness in this world. There’s perdition and hell. There’s damnation and separation. There’s downness in this life. And if you live at all among people, or acquainted at all with people who are lost, that’s their lives. It ultimately ends in a downness, in a darkness. That’s all they have to look forward to.
There’s another great movement of the hand of God in human history, revealed to us in the Holy Book. There is an onwardness in it. There’s an outwardness in it. There is a forwardness in it. There is a marching movement in it. And it’s described to us in the Word of the Lord as our entrance, the great judgment of the people, as our entrance into the millennial kingdom.
No one enters the millennial kingdom of our Lord who is lost. No one. All who enter the golden millennium are saved. And that means, of course, that there is a judgment of Israel, God’s people. If we had time and opportunity, we’d read the Scriptures concerning the judgment of God’s people, Israel, His chosen family.
In the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Zechariah, verses 8 and 9:
It shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts shall be cut off and die, but the third shall be left therein. 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, It is My people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.
And that great judgment of Israel is described in Ezekiel 20:33-38 and Ezekiel, 36:24-38. At the end time, when God prepares us for His millennial kingdom, at the end time, there will be a judgment for Israel and one-third of them will enter into the golden, glorious tomorrow God has prepared for His people. Two-thirds of them will be lost; they will not be saved. But one-third of them will enter in [Zechariah 13:8-9].
Now the same thing is true with regard to the Gentiles of the world. In the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, there is told, revealed, opened for us, the view of the great Judge, the Lord Jesus, who sits on the throne of His glory [Matthew 25:31]. And before Him are gathered all of the nations of the world. And He divides them as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats [Matthew 25:32]. And on the right hand, He places His sheep, those who have accepted the Lord through the preaching of the gospel [Matthew 25:33, 33, 34-40]. And these on the left hand are those who have refused the overtures of grace, and these shall go away into perdition, and everlasting punishment, and separation, and darkness, and death [Matthew 25:33, 41-46]. And these on the right hand shall enter into the blessed kingdom of our Lord [Matthew 25:34]. That is the great, great program that God has set before the whole world; Israel and the Gentile nations of this earth.
Now he describes here in this wonderful passage in Isaiah, he describes the characteristics of that millennial kingdom. There are four things in this passage that present the glory of that golden age. The first was this: “the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying” [Isaiah 65:19]. The Revelation speaks of it like this: “There shall 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]. There won’t be any more crying. There won’t be any more heartbrokenness. There won’t be any more desolation of spirit, no more loneliness, and no more disappointment and frustration.
This morning at the 8:15 service, there was a family that came here; knelt down there and they just cried their hearts out, broken over a son in the family. The voice of weeping and the voice of crying, all of that will be taken away, because it is caused by Satan. Satan oversows God’s kingdom’s work. Satan plows us under. Satan destroys us. Satan breaks our hearts. Satan afflicts us. Satan pulverizes our souls in the dust of the ground. The voice of weeping and the voice of crying.
I think of Milton’s Paradise Lost. It begins:
Of man’s first disobedience
And the fruit of that forbidden tree
Whose mortal taste brought death
Into the world and all our woe.
Immediately, immediately, your soul responds, “I know what he’s speaking of.” And when it speaks of weeping and crying, all of us know of what he speaks. There is a broken heartedness in every life. There are tears in every story. I believe I could write the story of every life in tears, and in sorrow, and in disappointment. There’s no one of us that doesn’t experience that broken heartedness and that sorrow of heart and of life. All of that will be taken away. There’ll be nobody who will be crying in broken heartedness and no one weeping because of the oppressive sorrows of this life.
Look again. “There will be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days. The child shall die a hundred years old; but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed [Isaiah 65:20]. For as the days of a tree, are the days of My people, and Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” [Isaiah 65:22]. It was not the purpose of God to bring death into the world. Death is an interloper. Death is an intruder. And the Lord said to our first parents, “In the day that you eat thereof thou shalt surely die” [Genesis 2:17].
Isn’t it a strange thing that not one of those antediluvians ever lived to be a thousand years old? A thousand years is a day in the calendar on the clock of God [2 Peter 3:8]. Adam lived to be nine hundred thirty years old [Genesis 5:5]. Methuselah lived to be nine hundred sixty-nine years old [Genesis 5:27]. But not one lived to be a thousand years old.
In the days of the millennium, all of them will live to be a thousand years old. All of them will. And the only one that would die would be as a child who would reach the age of accountability at a hundred years and rebel against God and lose his life and die [Isaiah 65:20]. But the people will live as a tree, as the age of a tree a thousand years. I just can’t imagine such a glorious thing. “And Mine elect shall enjoy the work of their hands” [Isaiah 65:22]. A beautiful, beautiful life with an extension of days that reaches to a millennium, a thousand years.
And look again, “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like an ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s meat” [Isaiah 65:25]. The earth will be so fertile and fecund and prolific that the serpent, who no longer is destroying, that the serpent finds food and to spare even in the dust of the ground.
In the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans it says “That the whole creation travaileth and groaneth together until now” [Romans 8:22]—all of it. The animal kingdom struggles and is cursed.
When I was a boy on the farm, I used to see the calves born and the other animals born. And it isn’t just a woman who travails in sorrow in birth [Genesis 3:16]; the whole animal kingdom does [Romans 8:22]. All of it does. And of course, all of us alike, face the same vicissitudes and fortunes of life whether an animal or whether a human being [Romans 8:23]. All of that is a fruit of the curse. The whole earth was cursed. The whole earth fell. The vegetable kingdom fell. The animal kingdom fell, as well as the human life fell. All of it fell in the curse [Romans 8:22-23]. But just as certain as there was and is an universal curse, there shall also be a universal blessing. We shall be delivered from the curse. The vegetable kingdom will. The animal kingdom will. And of course, the human life will. It will be a glorious, marvelous day [Isaiah 65:17-25].
And last, there won’t be any communists in it. None. None. “They shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them [Isaiah 65:21]. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat” [Isaiah 65: 22]. As Micah 4:4 says: “Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree.”
We’ll have our possessions. And we will work and enjoy the fruit of our hands. In a communist land, the government takes everything that you have. They own everything. That’s what communism is. And they take it away from you and use it for the state. And they worship the state. When man repudiates God, he’s going to worship something. So they worship the most powerful thing they know aside from God, so they worship the state. And the state owns everything and the people are slaves of the state. And anything that they have, the state takes it from them. There are no communists in the millennium kingdom. Not one. Every man will own his vine or his fig tree or his business or his house or his lands and all the fruit of his labor he will enjoy. That’s God’s purpose. That’s God’s will and that’s God’s glorious millennium.
And one other wonderful thing, wonderful thing: “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” [Isaiah 65:24]. In the preciousness of the presence of our Lord, He will anticipate every need, every desire, every prayer, and even before we can say it, or ask for it, or speak of it, God will bestow it upon us, He will give it to us. The dearness and the sweetness and the preciousness and the nearness of our Lord, dear me!
When the Lord came the first time, they didn’t understand. His own people: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” [John 1:11]. They were looking for a messiah who would deliver them from the Roman yoke. And when Christ was not that kind of a military leader, they repudiated Him. And the apostles were looking for an earthly kingdom in which one of them would sit on His right hand as prime minister and the other would sit on His left hand [Mark 10:37] as chancellor of the exchequer. The whole world misunderstood. And finally when the path led to Calvary, they all forsook Him, and fled [Matthew 26:56]. The sorrows of our Lord, the hurt of our Lord, finally the crucifixion of our Lord: that’s the way when He came the first time [Matthew 27:27-50].
But when He comes the second time [Matthew 24:27; Revelation 19:11; Hebrews 9:28], and when He establishes His glorious millennial kingdom [Matthew 25:31], it will be in an altogether different world. The people who love Him for what He has done for us, the atoning grace of Jesus [Romans 5:11], His suffering in our behalf, because He paid the penalty of our sin and saved us from the curse of death [1 Corinthians 15:31; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 10:5-14; 1 Timothy 1:15], the Bible says we will all bow down, and we will all worship His name, all of us will, the whole world will. “Every knee shall bow…and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” [Philippians 2:10-11].
What a prospect! Just think of a society, a people, the nations, all of them loving Jesus, speaking to the Lord Jesus, praying to the Lord Jesus, loving the Lord Jesus. And: “I will answer before they ask, and I will hear before they speak” [Isaiah 65:24]; just anticipating all the prayer requests of His people. It’s just beyond thought or imagination. No wonder Paul exclaims, “Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and the heart has not imagined the good things God hath prepared for those who love Him. They are just revealed to us by the Spirit” [1 Corinthians 2:9-10], in the Holy Scriptures of God. “Before they speak I will answer, and before they call I will hear” [Isaiah 65:24]; anticipating our requests. That’s a beautiful thought: anticipation, love expressed before anyone speaks.
I read of a young man who was building a home for his bride. And after they were married, why, he brought her into the home that he had built, and he took his young bride, he took her through the home that he had built. And he showed her all of the things in the house, in the home that he’d built. Here is this room, and here was this room, and here was this den, here was this kitchen, and here were all of the things that he’d prepared for his bride in that beautiful home. And then he took her to a room set apart and by itself, and he said to her, he said, “Sweetheart, it may be that there are times when you want to be by yourself, when you want to pray, or read the Bible, or just be alone by yourself. And this room is just for you; and no one is ever to enter it except just you. This is just for you.” And when she looked, she broke into tears. And he said, “Why sweet, why would you cry?” And she replied, “Dear husband, I just can’t contain my heart. You have been so good, and dear, and thoughtful, anticipating everything that I would ever want.”
That’s exactly like it will be with us. He anticipates every desire of our hearts, every prayer and supplication of our souls; and He answers even before we speak, and He hears even before we call. And that mansion that He is preparing for us is [John 14:2-3] in anticipation of what we would ask of Him for a home in glory. What a glorious, unspeakably precious, indescribable dearness! What God has prepared for us who love Him! [1 Corinthians 2:9]. The millennial kingdom, the ultimate home we have with Him in heaven, the mansion He is preparing for us, over there [John 14:2].
Were you here Sunday night a week ago or so, when we had our old-time singing convention? Were you here? And the Frasier’s were up here, and asked me to sing with them. And that song that I so remember as we sang it in one of those mountaineer associations in Kentucky, and as we sang it we just shook hands with each other, everybody crying, just happy in the Lord. I didn’t know a soul there, not a soul, not one; but I stood up as they stood up, and began to sing the song, as they sang it, and shook hands with the people as they shook hands, just out of the, nobody guiding it, nobody asking for it, just out of the souls of the people, just standing up and singing and crying and shaking hands. Remember the song?
My heavenly home is bright and fair,
And I want to be traveling on;
No harm or death can enter there,
And I want to be traveling on.
Yes, I want to be traveling on,
I want to be traveling on;
My heavenly home is bright and fair,
And I want to be traveling on.
Oh the Lord has been so good to me,
I want to be traveling on;
Until those mansions I can see,
And I want to be traveling on.
Yes, I want to be traveling on,
I want to be traveling on;
The Lord has been so good to me,
I want to be traveling on.
[from “I Feel Like Traveling On”; William Hunter, 1838]
That’s the Christian faith. There’s an upwardness in it, there’s an optimism in it, there’s a tomorrow glorious in it, no matter how we may be: sick, we’ll be well someday; crippled, we’ll be whole someday; brokenhearted, we’ll be healed someday; poor, we’ll be rich someday. That’s the Christian faith: “God having provided some better, glorious thing for us” [Hebrews 11:40].
And I think that’s the reason that we sing. There’s not one song dedicated to infidelity, not one. There has never been a song of infidelity. But the last count I read there were five hundred thousand songs dedicated to Jesus. Think of that. Singing, happy in the Lord, “God has been so good to me.” And the prospects that we have are infinitely precious and infinitely dear.
And that’s why we make appeal to your heart and to your soul, to give your heart to Jesus; to dedicate your life to Him; to belong to the family of God; to be a member of His redeemed people; to be counted among those that look to Him in love and worship. It is incomparably precious. And we invite you thus to share the riches of God’s grace. Some of you, giving your heart to the Lord in faith, come. Some of you putting your life with us in this dear church, come [Romans 10:8-13]. Some of you recommitting your life to the Lord, come [Hebrews 10:24-25]. As the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life, and welcome. In the balcony round, there’s time and to spare, coming down one of these stairways. In the throng on this lower floor, into one of these aisles, “Pastor, this is God’s day for me and I’m on the way, bringing my family, bringing my children, all of us are coming today.” Welcome, and angels attend you in the way as you come, while we stand and while we sing.