Many people today wonder what is the future of our planet. There is widespread anxiety
about the financial situation, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism,
the environment, social disorder and violence. Any number of world situations could
suddenly tip us over into a frightening new crisis which either creates chaos and
anarchy or a dictatorial world government with huge technical resources at its disposal
to control the population.
Today we see events shaping up in the Middle East, in the world political scene,
in the breakdown of moral values and spread of false religion that tie up with Bible
prophecy and are preparing the way for the last days’ tribulation prophesied by the
Lord Jesus: ‘For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since
the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those
days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days
will be shortened.’ Mt 24.21-22.
But is there a hope for the future of the earth as well? Will there ever be a time
when the words of Isaiah 2.1-4 will be fulfilled? ‘Now it shall come to pass in
the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the
top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills and all nations shall flow
to it. Many people shall come and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of
the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways and we shall
walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the word of the Lord
from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations and rebuke many people; they
shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation
shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.’
Is this just a pious dream or a real hope of something which will one day happen
on the earth? If it will happen, how will it come about? The pre-Millennial view,
which takes a literal view of the scripture, says that there will be such a time
on the earth following the physical return of the Lord Jesus to the earth. We will
now look at how this view is applied to scripture.
According to the book of Revelation this present age will end with a time of great
trouble on the earth as the nations gather for the final battle at Armageddon. Then
Jesus will return as KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, with all the power of God at
His disposal. This coming will be entirely different from His first coming when
He came to fulfil the prophecies of the suffering servant Messiah by laying down
his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Then He came to be born as child,
a Son descended from King David, to live a perfect life without sin, and to demonstrate
His divine power through His miracles. He was rejected and put to death on the cross
where he took the sins of the world upon himself. He rose again from the dead and
sent out his disciples to preach the message of the Gospel, that sins are forgiven
through repentance and faith in his death on the cross. Those who accept this salvation
are born again and will be resurrected to eternal life and saved from hell.
He promised that He would come a second time in an event which will demonstrate the
supernatural power of God and bring a total change to the earth. In Acts 1.11 the
angel told the disciples: ‘This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven
will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’ Jesus ascended in the
‘clouds of heaven’ (the glory of God) so He will return in the clouds of heaven (Daniel
7.13). He ascended from the Mount of Olives on the east side of Jerusalem, so He
will return to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14). He will come as the Reigning
King Messiah of Hebrew prophecy. ‘The government will be upon His shoulder’ and He
will reign as ‘the mighty God’ upon the throne of David (Isaiah 9.6-7).
At his first coming He submitted to the unjust rule of wicked men who put Him to
death by crucifixion. At His second coming the wicked will submit to His judgement
(Revelation 6.15-16). He will make war with the armies gathered by the beast (antichrist)
and false prophet in the final battle and defeat them, throwing the beast and the
false prophet straight into hell (Revelation 19.19-21). The survivors of the tribulation
period will be gathered before Him for judgement. The wicked will be cast off the
earth into the place of punishment and the righteous will enter into the kingdom
(Matthew 25.31-46). The devil will be bound ‘for a thousand years, and he will cast
him into the bottomless pit and shut him up and set a seal on him so that he should
deceive the nations no more until the thousand years were finished.’ (Revelation
When Jesus returns the saints will be with Him (in New Testament terms ‘saints’ simply
means those who have saving faith in the Lord Jesus). In Zechariah 14.5 we read,
‘Thus the Lord my God will come and all the saints with you.’ Jude 14 says, ‘Behold
the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgement on all.’ In
Revelation 19 John sees Jesus coming as ‘KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS’. ‘And
the armies in heaven clothed in fine linen white and clean followed him.’ Revelation
19.14. Those clothed in fine linen white and clean have already been identified
in the chapter as ‘saints’ (Revelation 19.8).
So those who have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus in the present age will
come back with the Lord in glorified bodies and reign with Him in the renewed earth
of the Millennial period. The people who will take part in this glorious event are
those who have been previously taken to be with the Lord at the Rapture of the Church:
‘For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the
archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.’ 1 Thessalonians
4.16-17. They will have new eternal bodies (1 Corinthians 15.53-54) not subject
to death or decay.
He will also resurrect those who were martyred for their faith during the tribulation
period. ‘Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to
Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image and
had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and
reigned with Christ for a thousand years. … They shall be priests of God and of
Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years.’ Revelation 20.4-6. Those who
came to believe in Jesus during the tribulation after the rapture of the church will
also be resurrected, and reign with Jesus in the Messianic kingdom.
The redeemed of Israel / the Old Testament period will also be resurrected: ‘At
that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons
of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there
was a nation even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered,
everyone who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust
of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting
contempt.’ Daniel 12.1-2.
Following the return of the Messiah and the judgement of the wicked the Lord will
reign over the earth bringing a period of universal peace and prosperity. The Bible
says that at this time the nations will go up to hear the word of the Lord in Zion,
streaming to the Lord’s temple rebuilt on Mount Zion which will be lifted up above
the other hills around Jerusalem.
They will seek the Lord and walk in His ways. This implies a total change from the
present world situation in which the overwhelming majority scoff and reject God’s
word and walk in their own ways to destruction. There will also be a total change
in how they relate to one another. Instead of war and hostility there will a peace
settlement between all nations – including the currently intractable Middle East
situation – and an end to all weapons production and military training. All this
will happen because the word of the Lord will go out from Zion.
The Lord Himself will be there to judge between the nations and settle their disputes.
Psalm 2.9, Isaiah 11.4 and Revelation 19.15 say that He will rule the nations with
a ‘rod of iron’ – in other words they won’t be able to vote him out of power, or
start making weapons of war or doing drugs or pornography or anything else that is
evil in the eyes of the Lord. This will be a benevolent rule which will be for the
welfare and provision of all the peoples on the earth.
The redeemed of Israel will be gathered to the land of Israel and dwell there in
safety. ‘He will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed
of Judah from the four corners of the earth.’ Isaiah 11.11. There will be peace
and blessing on Israel and the neighbouring lands. ‘In that day there will be a
highway from Egypt to Assyria … In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt
and Assyria - a blessing in the midst of the land.’ Isaiah 19.23-24.
The Lord will bring about change in the natural world as the desert blossoms (Isaiah
35) and the waters of the Dead Sea are healed and become fresh, teaming with fish
(Ezekiel 47). Even the animal kingdom will change as ‘The wolf also shall dwell
with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young
lion and the fatling together and a little child shall lead them.’ (Isaiah 11.6).
There will be abundant provision for all: ‘But everyone shall sit under his fig
tree and none shall make them afraid.’ Micah 4.4.
Such miraculous changes can only come about through the power of God. No great man
can accomplish these things, so the Messiah who will do them must be more than a
great man. He must be Immanuel / God with us.
This conflicts with the Jewish idea of the Messiah which is that he is a great man
who brings Israel and the nations to walk in the ways of God and bring peace. For
all that has been described in the prophets to take place the One who causes them
to happen must Himself be God. A number of prophecies in the Hebrew Bible speak of
the reigning King Messiah as a divine person. This raises an issue of God as a plural
unity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as opposed to God as an absolute unity of one.
There is evidence in the Hebrew text of the Bible that God is a plural unity so that
it is possible for the Father to be reigning in heaven while the Son is reigning
on the earth (further information on this subject available on request).
The prophecy of Zechariah 14 speaks of the time of the Messianic kingdom / Millennium
and shows that the One who will reign is the LORD (Adonai / Yahweh). It says ‘The
LORD will go forth and fight against those nations as He fights in the day of battle.
And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which faces Jerusalem
on the east. …
And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be – ‘The LORD
is one and His name one.’ Zechariah 14.3-9. The word used for LORD here is the Hebrew
term Yahweh which only is used of God. So the LORD will stand with feet on the Mount
of Olives (and the rest of a body!) and be king over all the earth. A number of
other prophets speak of the Lord being present in the midst of His people. ‘In that
day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not fear Zion, let not your hands be weak,
The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One will save, He will rejoice over you
with gladness.’ Zephaniah 3.16-17. ‘Cry out and shout O inhabitant of Zion, for
great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst.’ Isaiah 12.6.
During this time all idols will be abolished (Isaiah 2.17) and there will only be
one LORD and one way to worship Him (and one universal language!) The living God
revealed in Jesus the Messiah will be the only God worshipped on earth. ‘For then
I will restore to the peoples a pure language that they all may call on the name
of the LORD to serve Him with one accord.’ Zephaniah 3.9. As people praise and
walk in the ways of the God who made them they will know peace and harmony and the
‘earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.’
Isaiah 11.9. There will be a good one world government and one world faith in one
During this time children will be born in the normal way to the survivors of the
tribulation who go into the Millennium. Long life will be the norm but sin and death
will still be a possibility (though not for those who have previously been resurrected
and come back with the Lord in glorified bodies): ‘No more shall an infant from
there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days, for the
child shall die one hundred years old but the sinner being one hundred years old
shall be accursed.’ Isaiah 65.20. Because Satan is bound and unable to deceive
the nations during the 1000 years and the Lord Jesus is ruling the nations, the ability
to sin will be very limited. But at the end of the 1000 year period ‘Satan will
be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the
four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose
number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded
the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of
heaven and devoured them. The devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of
fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented
day and night for ever and ever.’ Revelation 20.7-10.
Those who have been born in the normal way during the Millennium and in their hearts
are rebelling against the reign of the Messiah will join Satan in his final rebellion
against the LORD at the end of this period. This futile rebellion will end in complete
defeat for Satan and all who join with him.
This will be the end of the world as this earth is burned up and God creates a new
heaven and new earth in which there will be righteousness and to which Satan and
sinners will have no access. This will lead to the eternal state for believers and
unbelievers alike – with only two possible destinies – heaven and hell. Now is the
day of salvation. We need to accept Messiah as Saviour now so that we will have
a part to play in His glorious coming Kingdom.