THE CLOCK OF GOD, Part 5, THE REIGN OF CHRIST

Goodnews Christian Ministry

"On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship, and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants. His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed." ---Daniel 7:14

CHAPTER 18

The Millennium of the Messiah

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"Then I saw an angel come down from heaven
with the key of the Abyss in his hand and an enormous chain.
He overpowered the dragon...Satan,
and chained him up for a thousand years."
Revelation 20:1-2

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The millennium is a term which defines the reign of Christ on earth. It encompasses the 'thousand years' that God has allotted for Jesus and His Church to rule in this world.

The angel threw Satan into the Abyss, and shut the entrance and sealed it over him to make sure he would not deceive the nations again until the thousand years had passed. Then...I saw the souls of those...who had refused to worship the beast...they came to life, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years."


There is considerable confusion surrounding this simple vision because many persist in misunderstanding the rule of Christ on earth. Some think the reign defined in this prophecy has to do with a terrestrial bliss that envelops the earth after the return of Jesus. But John's vision is not about that.

John is referring to this world in our own time zone (Satan's earth and its paganism) being suddenly overtaken by the forces of Christ -- something history has already observed and documented. (See Graph) This prophecy is not about our coming future, because the future it describes has, for the most part, already taken place.

It is a vision that describes the last 2000 years ­ the era of Christian rule on Satan's earth. It is a prophecy of the triumphal Church ­ something we have witnessed, but which had not yet occurred when John had his vision of it on Patmos.

This vision takes us back to Rev.13 and describes more fully the time of the 'mortal wound' which God inflicted on the sixth head of the beast (i.e., on Rome and its paganism) -- the mortal wound which gave the Church dominion over the world -- a mortal wound that would later 'heal', allowing the pagans to return to power. "At the end of that time he (Satan) must be released, but only for a short while. " (Rv.20:3-4).

The 'thousand years' which John described in his Book of Revelation, describes the time of the proliferation of Christ's teaching across the length and breadth of the planet -- a time made possible by the incarceration of Satan by God.

Because the various churches have been so much at war with one another -- trying to impose their own ideologies on one another and tear each other down -- the rule of all this Church in the world has been largely ignored.

Like combative brothers and sisters in a contentious family, they have been so consumed with their mutual bickering and fighting, few of them have recognized the millennium which surrounds them, and which has allowed them all to flourish on Satan's earth.

That is because so few are willing to recognize the other churches as a part of themselves or as a part of their Jesus.

For this reason, the millenium has passed virtually unnoticed. In fact, it is almost over. The mortal wound Jesus inflicted on the sixth head of the beast has begun to heal in a great rebellion against Christian rule. Its regeneration has unleashed Satan from his chains and permitted him to be released from his jail in the Abyss.

When the thousand years are over, scripture tells us, Satan will return from that dark cell in the Abyss and mobilize the four quarters of the earth for war. (Rv.20:7-8).

The proof that this prophecy has been fulfilled can be seen in two momentous events: the unprecedented global warfare that has characterized the Twentieth Century, and the quiet transition from Christian to secular rule across the planet that has accompanied all this warfare.

The millennium of world Christian rule, then, has come and gone and almost no one on earth realizes that such an event has even occurred. Instead of premillennium's and postmillennium's, God has given us a contemporary millennium, and it has come wrapped in the peal of church bells.

The millenium of the Messiah encompasses the duration of Christ's treaty of peace with Babylon. It describes the time alloted for salvation on earth before the gate is closed and Jesus returns. We can see that it has lasted almost 2000 years. That means God has doubled the millenium, giving us, in His benevolence, twice what the prophecies stipulated.

That He would do this was foreseen by Joshua.

The duration of Christ's offer on earth is described as the "Day of Atonement". As long as it lasts it represents the light of Christ beaming on earth. It is a "Day of the Lord" ­ a day described in scripture as being 1000 years as far as man is concerned (Ps.90:4). The word "millenium", then, means "Day" of God.

Joshua prophesied that Christ's "Day" would be extended by God. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he said that the sun did not set for almost two days (Joshua 10:13-14). That is precisely where we are now. It has been almost 2000 years since Christ walked and preached on earth.

And, true to the prophecy, we can see a "Great Revolt" sweeping God's offer of reconciliation away. The 'Son' is setting; darkness is returning. God's offer is about to be withdrawn. The gate is closing, bringing the 'millenium' of Jesus on earth to an end. That, of course, is what "Persia" is all about, the blistering east winds of prophecy that have now begun to blow in from the Euphrates.

Here again, God is bringing prophecy to fact in two parts by opposites. The virtual millennium of worldly perfection that many Protestants say lies somewhere between this world and the kingdom of heaven at the conclusion of history -- has already been fulfilled without anyone recognizing it by a de facto millennium of human frailty and trial by fire that has seen all the nations of the world streaming to a kingdom that will replace this earth, not just for a thousand years, but forever.

For almost 2000 years people without number have been reaching out just as Isaiah predicted they would, to a teaching that has allowed them to walk in the ways and paths of God along a road that leads to eternal life.

The opportunity to walk these paths in communities ruled by the churches of Jesus Christ is the millennium that no one noticed. It is an era of peace created by a treaty that is now in the process of rejection by revolt.

God wrested control of this planet away from Satan and locked him in a prison so that Christ's message of salvation could be broadcast to those who have ears to hear it. But that offer has a time limit. And in the world's current moral collapse we can see God's offer trailing off in a flood of rejection because the people of the world have become hypnotized by the lure of other gods.

The Revolt that has precipitated this return to Babylon is everywhere around us now and it is tearing down the very fabric of Jesus' reign upon this planet. John said that when the '1000 years' allotted by God for the reign of Christian government on earth comes to an end, Satan would be allowed to return from the Abyss and place the world on a war footing.

This mobilization is now in progress. It has produced two world wars, hundreds of provincial wars, a score of United Nation kind of wars and a cold war which, by the judgment of world leaders, has moved their own analysis of a 'doomsday clock' virtually to midnight. This is a pagan mobilization and it began this century.

And yet John's prediction, even in its validation, still remains obscure. That is why so few people are ready to understand what it means. The pagans are seizing control of the planet -- tearing it back out of the hands of the Church. And as they do so, they bear witness that the pagan world's 'mortal wound' is now being healed.


The Millennium as Christ's 'Day' of Atonement

As we have already shown, the reign of the Church is called the 'Day of God' on earth -- a day the Israelites called 'Atonement' (because it was the one day each year fixed in the Law when sins could be atoned for). Jesus handed this holy 'day' to the entire world.

This brings us to the realization that the 'Day of Atonement' specified in Hebrew law and the thousand-year 'Day' which Jesus initiated for our reconciliation with God, define identical concepts.

In the Old Testament, the Day of Atonement was the highest holy day in the Israelite calendar -- a day now called by the Jews, 'Yom Kippur'. It was the one day each year when the Jewish high priest could enter the room called the 'Holy of Holies' inside the temple and secure mercy for the people of Israel.

As a part of this yearly ceremony, the High Priest would take two perfect unblemished goats -- one he would kill, offering it up in sacrifice to God, and on the back of the other (which remained alive), he would load all the sins of the people.

This 'scapegoat' as it was called would then be led out to the desert and given over to Satan. Jesus, of course, stopped all this ritual in its tracks when He absorbed this entire ceremony in Himself, taking the sins of the people on His own back as He was led out of Jerusalem and handed over to Satan to be crucified.

Fulfilling the Yom Kippur event on divine terms, Jesus gave every Christian believer the post of high priest. And to give us all a common temple in which to conduct our worship, He removed the Holy of Holies from its sanctuary in the temple in Jerusalem and, wrapping it in His own Holy Spirit, placed it inside the soul of each Christian believer.

Changing the sacrifice from the blood of innocent animals to the commandments of the Gospel, Jesus made our high priesthood work for compassion, mercy and gentleness on earth rather than for blood and gore.

This allowed us to offer the kind of sacrifices that truly please God -- acts of goodness and love for others -- acts which destroy sin completely.

Jesus created this time of reconciliation and atonement that we now find ourselves in on earth, so that we could escape the death sentence sin had decreed for our soul.

The light of the millennium is Jesus preached openly all across the earth. The Bible's comparison of Jesus to sunlight and therefore, to the 'day', is a reflection of the kind of light which forms this holy time of atonement: the light of the Son.

From the very beginning, the Bible has used the metaphor of light to describe the nature and substance of God and His word. Jesus is portrayed as the 'day' and his reign as 'daylight', while Satan is seen as 'darkness' and his rule as the 'night'.

There is a kind of harmony in scripture that ties the Day of Atonement with the thousand years of the millennium. Since the Bible has defined God's 'day' in thousand-year terms ("To you, a thousand years are a single day" -- Ps.90:4), and because Jesus is the 'Sonlight' of that single day, the two time periods have a common symmetry.

That 'thousand years', the 'single day' of Christ, is, in fact, the millennium.

Many have understood the prophecy of the millennium as a description of an earthly pre-heaven -- a time of perfect peace and harmony in which Jesus returns and sets up a temporary kingdom on this planet after evil has been eradicated and the earth cured.

Thus it is viewed as a terrestrial perfection lying somewhere between our current world and the kingdom of heaven -- halfway between the two -- something like a glorious alternative to purgatory.

But that cannot be true. Scripture indicates that this world is destined for annihilation in the final days because its evil cannot be cured. "Yes the sluicegates above will open, and the foundations of the earth will rock. The earth will split into fragments...so heavy will be its sin on it, it will fall never to rise again." (Is.24:18-20).

After the final blows against sin have been struck, there will be nothing left here on which a kingdom can be placed -- only tiny fragments floating around in space.

The kingdom of God is in heaven. Jesus came, not to cure this world, but to rescue us out of it. More than that, the wickedness of this world extends to the ends of the universe -- to every place where death exists. And the judgment will destroy it all.

"That day, God will punish above, the armies of the sky, below, the kings of the earth." (Is.24:21). When that day comes, God will take those who have been faithful to Christ directly to the new kingdom -- directly to the Jerusalem of heaven. The earth and the lower sea in which it now floats will disappear forever.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, and the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven..."
(Rv.21:1-2).

There will be no 'millennium' ( no thousand years) in heaven because life in the holy city -- the new Jerusalem of heaven -- is eternal. There are no time limits to our life in the kingdom of God -- no 'thousand years'. In heaven our lives will last forever.

With heaven eternal, the only time limits that God has set relate to this world. Therefore the millennium -- the time limit of a thousand years -- has to be now -- the age of the Church -- the 'day' that God's 'Sonshine' illuminates the earth.

This is the time that God has allotted for Christ to be preached so that all mortals can repent and be saved -- the time when Church government has ruled secular government on earth. This reign is difficult for people to see now because it lies in such ruin, but for the last 1700 years it has held the world in the grip of Christ's iron sceptre. (Ps. 2:8-9).

It started at Pentecost and it is still in progress, but now decaying fast. The 'thousand years' constitutes a single day in the light of Christ -- the day of God when the Gospel of Christ has been freely preached almost everywhere on the planet (in every conceivable kind of church and language) with little hindrance -- bringing the offer of God's mercy to all people in an environment which has encouraged repentance and faith.


The key to the millennium is the fact that it consists of a set number of years. As such, it has both a beginning and an end. This means that it is temporary. God has given the pagan world only a short time to discover and follow Jesus Christ. At the end of that time he is to be taken away.

This 'window' of conversion is the millennium -- the era of world faith that John said would lie between the two wars and which was predicted by prophecy: "All the pagans will come and adore you, Lord, all will glorify your name." (Ps.86:9).


God Has Stretched One Day Into Almost Two

Instead of one-thousand years, God has granted the world almost two-thousand years for reconciliation. The fact that God would extend the time of mercy was alluded to in one of the earliest prophecies in the Bible. Joshua tells us: "Is this not written in the Book of the Just? The sun stood still in the middle of the sky and delayed its setting for almost a whole day (making one day into almost two)." (Joshua 10:12-13).

Our calendar itself, then, shows us a Christ-centered time-frame that is now just a few years shy of 2000 years. The Son has delayed His setting -- making the One Day of God's Atonement period on earth become almost two.

Incredibly, we are situated at this very instant at the terminal moment of Joshua's prophecy ('almost two days'). It is no wonder, then that we are now seeing Christ's 'day' disappearing so quickly into Satan's advancing night.

The inception of Christ's millenium on earth (the Day of of the Lord) probably occurred on the day of Pentecost in the year 30 or 33 A.D., when the 'light' returned from heaven (52 days after the crucifixion), or perhaps 35 years later when the 'beast' Nero died and the Jewish temple of Herod Antipas was burned down.

While to us the millennium of Christ's rule has measured almost 2000 years, to God it is still only one day -- Christ's Day -- His magnificent Day of Atonement -- stretched into 'almost two' days by the power of the Holy Spirit .

The 'sun' that God stopped in the sky to accomplish this miracle for us is the light of Jesus Christ on earth -- the light of the Son of God.

God has doubled the millennium. In his Gospel, Jesus said that when a man asks you to go one mile with him you should go two instead. The Lord was not just ordering us to behave in this way, he was also telling us the behavior of God that we should try to imitate. Going the extra mile is God's behavior.

By extending the time of mercy, God has gone the extra mile for us. The conversion of the world -- the fact that the world believed in Jesus Christ when he was preached to it -- has actually caused the days of the millennium to be multiplied: "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; the knowledge of the Holy One -- perception indeed! For days are multiplied by me and years of life increased." (Prov.9:10-11).

According to the scriptures, life is lengthened and death is forestalled by conversion into God's righteousness: "My son, do not forget my teaching, let your heart keep my principles, for these will give you lengthier days, longer years of life, and greater happiness." (Prov.3:1-2).

As we have shown, the millennium marks the age of the Church. It began on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit brought the Spirit of God into the world and started placing it in the hearts of people.

Like the moment of sunrise, the Day of God began to spread from that moment, going out from Jerusalem to cover the entire earth in its light. So that this light could shine into every human heart, God had the dragon imprisoned in the Abyss and kept him there until the time came for Christ's 'day' on earth to end.

The jailing of Satan finalized the mortal wound. With the devil's forces in disarray, the people of Christ were able to conquer the pagan Roman empire and place the entire civilized world at the feet of God less than 300 years after He was crucified.

The rule of God over the nations is referred to as 'the time of the iron scepter'. "Ask and I will give you the nations for your heritage, the ends of the earth for your domain. "

"With iron sceptre you will break them, shatter them like potter's ware. So now, you kings, learn wisdom, earthly rulers, be warned: serve the Lord, fear him, tremble and kiss his feet, or he will be angry and you will perish, for his anger is very quick to blaze."
(Ps.2:8-12).

It is this image that constitutes the reign of the Church on earth. "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven." (Mt.16:19).

With this proclamation, Jesus gave the Church absolute power over the material world. And it is this power that defines the millennium. It is what Daniel called,"the power of the holy people". (Dn.12:7).

In showing that every person who receives the Holy Spirit is an heir to this power, Jesus said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained." (Jn.20:23).

Many have used this power to pursue a bad purpose, and it is their actions which have helped give the reign of Christianity on earth a bad name among many people today.

That is why it is so important that each person in Christ forgive anyone who commits a sin against them -- i.e., that they use this power for good -- because the power it represents is ironclad and, as such, has bound the entire world under the governing scepter of Jesus Christ and those who follow him.

This is the real meaning of the millennium -- iron-clad Christian rule -- the time of the rule of Christ's Church on earth. It is God's true 'Day of Atonement', because as long as it lasts, sins really can be forgiven -- or bound.

The governing sceptre of the Church of Christ in the world can be seen in all the empires which have risen up under the cross. When Rome converted to Jesus, its empire ruled the world and so its conversion was the world's conversion. Because Rome ruled the world, its decrees were binding on the world.

And throughout the rest of history the story has been the same: the governments promoting Christ have ruled civilization. And they have done so in the name of Jesus Christ: Germany, Holland, England, France, Spain, Portugal -- even the United States.

For a score and seven centuries, the colonies of these Christian nations have crisscrossed the globe, creating vast empires from one end of the earth to the other -- each of them in their own turn perpetuating the iron sceptre of global Christianity.

In their own time, each had complete control of the world's destiny, and in that control they all carried the cross and actively preached Christ wherever they went. They may not have all lived in Christ, but they all preached Him.

For 1700 years the story has been the same -- the political promotion of Jesus worldwide. All these kings and world leaders bound the people of their empires to Christ in what history shows us was an iron-clad rule.

Only in this last century has that historic course been changed. And it is in this change that we can see the true meaning of John's discourse on the millennium. (Rv.20:1-10).

Now, most western governments are disassociating themselves from Christ. "On these grounds is sentence pronounced: that though the light has come into the world men have shown they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil." (Jn.3:19).

When this separation has been completed, the millennium is destined to disappear in the apocalyptic war that Jesus predicted. "Then they will hand you over to be tortured and put to death; and you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name. And then many will fall away; men will betray one another and hate one another." (Mt.24:9-11).

This is the same apocalyptic war John described in the Book of Revelation when he revealed how the millennium would one day dissolve -- trampled under the feet of the ruthless armies of Gog and Magog. (Rv.20:7-9).

The millennium has produced a time of contradictions on earth.

While the wicked have pockmarked history with arrogant and ungodly deeds during this period, a great many others, mostly the poor and the gentle, over the past seventeen hundred years lived quiet Christian lives and tried to structure themselves and their families in the word of God.

The governments, in their close alliance with churches and church officials, publicly encouraged Christian behavior in the masses, going so far as to even sanction death sentences or long prison terms against those they felt were trying to abolish or interfere with their strictly enforced theological moral codes.

It was in such an atmosphere that the infamous church-sanctioned inquisitions of Spain were launched. Drawing on the action of Peter who ordered the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira for opposing the Spirit of God (Acts 5:1-11), the church officials felt justified in approving such measures.

Armed with today's perspective, we react with horror at the idea of a church-dominated government trying to impose by force codes of ethical conduct on its people in ways that were obviously the ultimate contradiction of Christ.

The two era's, however, were greatly different from one another. The fact is, most citizens in the early Middle Ages supported the rule of church leaders.

The vast majority of people (the average citizens) during the millennium were so oriented to the Church in their mind and thought that they viewed the dissidents around them the same way we would gangs, anarchists and seditionists in our own times.

That attitude has now changed, of course. Today, few Christians would sanction publicly punishing the enemies of Jesus, or attempt to enforce Christ's moral code on society the way the civic leaders of those time did.

In the societies of the millennium, everyone was committed to a life in Jesus so each of those communities were like broad extensions of the kind of group Peter managed when he disciplined Ananias and Sapphira.

When everyone was a Christian the church felt obligated to follow Peter's lead. It is a sad tribute that it did not always share Peter's compassion or faith.

The corruption was alleviated to some extent by the Reformation, but the world could plainly see that the millennium was beginning to fall apart from the inside out. Faith was giving way to the spirits of injustice, violence and greed.

Today, in the middle of the Revolt, such 'iron scepter' moral rule is not possible because so many citizens are no longer committed Christians. The society of past ages was produced by a conversion of heart. The society replacing it has been produced by a hardening of heart.

It is not possible to recreate the gentle spirit that lay at the heart of the millennium by force or by government action. It can only return by a change of heart -- the same way it came in the first place.

The enemies of Christ have become so many that the moral scepter of Christ is no longer wielded in government circles. We are now encouraged to allow all who disagree with the teachings of the Bible to behave as they please.

And as this opposition continues to grow, we are beginning to see communities oblivious to Christ; and, perhaps more importantly, ones in which the Christian message is being increasingly suppressed.

Openly pagan behavior and beliefs were not tolerated during the previous era of governmental Christian rule when the preaching of the Gospel was offically commanded by world leadership to touch everbody.

So it is a serious anachronism for us to consider the world today as a mirror of the world yesterday. Things have changed, and they have changed dramatically. For many of us, they have changed in our own lifetime.

Elementary school nativity plays, for instance, are now gone. So is public documentation of the Ten Commandments. Until just a few years ago the churches set the moral standards of the world community. Movies and art and literature had to comply with strict codes of ethics -- ethics which today are ridiculed as artificial and unrealistic.

The reality of history shows that human society has been held in the iron grasp of a Christian-imposed morality since the days of Constantine. That hold has finally been broken -- actually shattered -- in our own time.

This hold may have been artificial as the scholars now insist, but that only proves the reign of Christ on earth, it does not argue that it did not happen.

Next
Chapter 19,
"A Time of Trouble"

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