The Benefits of Mankind’s Millennium
1. (a) What does the Bible indicate as to whether the battle of Armageddon will leave all earth without inhabitant? (b) Who will be the first subjects over whom Christ will reign during the millennium?
DOES the destruction of Babylon the Great and the battle of Armageddon mean wiping out the human race? Will those events leave all earth without inhabitant? Will not even the remnant of Christ’s faithful congregation of 144,000 be left on the earth in vindication of Almighty God’s protective power over them? In answer the Holy Bible strongly indicates that a remnant of these heavenly Kingdom heirs will be preserved through the war of Armageddon for earthly service before their earthly demise and their resurrection and glorification in the heavens. Also, a “great crowd” of dedicated, baptized Christian companions will survive Armageddon with them. These latter will be the first of the human subjects on earth over whom Christ will reign for mankind’s blessing. What is a kingdom without subjects?—Prov. 14:28.
2. Who make up this “great crowd,” and what does Revelation 7:14 mean in saying that they come “out of the great tribulation”?
2 The Apocalypse or book of Revelation itself shows that there will be human survivors of the war of Armageddon and the imprisoning of Satan in the abyss. Revelation, chapter seven, makes it plain that these survivors are different from the 144,000 spiritual Israelites, the associate kings of Jesus Christ. They are an international “great crowd” who acknowledge themselves as subjects of God and his Christ; and Revelation 7:14 states that “these are the ones that come out of the great tribulation.” This means more than that they have come out in favor of God and his Christ during the time of the “great tribulation” with which this worldly system of things ends. It means that they also survive that tribulation under God’s protection and live on into the new system of things that follows on earth. They worship and serve God at his spiritual temple and follow the Lamb Jesus Christ like a Shepherd, who leads them to life-giving waters.—Rev. 7:9-17.
3 In his prophecy concerning the end of this system of things the “Fine Shepherd” Jesus Christ indicated that there would be survivors of the “great tribulation,” when he said: “Then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.” And when Jesus added that, as it was in the days of Noah, so it would be in the days of his invisible second presence, he strongly suggested that there would be survivors of the great tribulation, inasmuch as both Noah and the seven members of his family survived the flood with which the ungodly world of his days was destroyed. (Matt. 24:21, 22, 37-39) After the flood, when Noah and his family came out of the ark into the cleansed earth, God told them what to do. (Gen. 9:1-17) No less so will the survivors of the great tribulation need new and suitable instructions.
4. What state of affairs will make it fitting that Christ step in and begin governing the survivors of Armageddon?
4 Certain prominent persons of today will not survive the destruction of Babylon the Great and the destruction of the earthly kings and their armies and supporters in the war of Armageddon. There will be no survival for the religious rulers of the Babylonish world empire of false religion or for the political and military rulers who war against the heavenly kingdom of God and his Christ. (Rev. 17:14; 19:19-21) Thereafter, by being imprisoned in the abyss, Satan “the ruler of this world,” “the god of this system of things,” will be removed from all touch with mankind. (John 12:31; 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4) That state of affairs will make it most fitting that Jesus Christ step in and fill the need of those surviving on earth for a new, righteous, perfect government.
5. What does Revelation 20:4-6 say about this needed government?
5 Revelation, chapter twenty, after describing the casting of Satan into the bottomless pit for a thousand years, tells us of this needed government, as the apostle John says: “And I saw thrones, and there were those who sat down on them, and power of judging was given them. Yes, I saw the souls of those executed with the ax for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God, and those who had worshiped neither the wild beast nor its image and who had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand. And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.”—Rev. 20:4-6.
6. What is this “first resurrection,” when does it take place, and why?
6 In those Re 20 verses 4-6 the “first resurrection” does not mean a symbolical resurrection, that is, the spiritual rebirth of Christians in water baptism, as the Roman Catholic father Augustine says in his book De Civitate Dei. (See page 232, paragraph 14.) It is a literal resurrection of those happy and holy ones. It takes place, as Jesus said, in “the last day,” at his second coming and presence in an invisible way. It is then, at the call of his voice, that these dead holy ones ‘come to life’ and begin ruling with Christ in his heavenly kingdom. (John 5:28, 29) Certainly it is not before water baptism that they are executed with the ax for bearing testimony about Jesus and speaking God’s Word. It was certainly not before water baptism that they had passed the test of not worshiping the “wild beast” and his “image” and of not receiving the characteristic mark of either beast or image in their forehead or in their hands. This testing came after baptism.
7. (a) Why is this resurrection called the “first”? (b) How do those participating prove worthy of such a resurrection?
7 This “first resurrection” is called such to differentiate it from the resurrection of the “rest of the dead,” who are said not to come to life “until the thousand years were ended.” So the resurrection of the happy and holy ones is “first” in point of time and in importance, for “over these the second death has no authority.” At their resurrection from the dead they are clothed upon with immortality, deathlessness, together with incorruptibility. This, in fact, is the resurrection described by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians, chapter fifteen, verses thirty-five through fifty-four. It is the resurrection of which Paul there says: “It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body.” For such a first-ranking resurrection these happy and holy ones must be proved worthy by suffering martyrdom by being executed with the ax and by refusing to worship the “wild beast” and its “image” and to receive the mark of such things in their foreheads or their hands. Till their death in the flesh they must faithfully give their testimony about Jesus Christ and speak the Word of God as set out in the Holy Bible.—Rev. 2:10.
A HEAVENLY GOVERNMENT
8. Will they reign in earthly Jerusalem, and where will their subjects be found during the thousand years?
8 Being resurrected with spiritual bodies, they will be able to reign with the King Jesus Christ in the heavens, unseen to their human subjects on earth. Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the heavenly Father in His throne. Concerning the location of His throne Jehovah God says: “The heavens are my throne, and the earth is my footstool.” (Isa. 66:1; Acts 7:48, 49; Ps. 110:1; Acts 2:34-36; 1 Pet. 3:22) Where, then, will Jesus Christ reign with his resurrected happy and holy followers for a thousand years? In the thronelike heavens, and not on earth, not in earthly Jerusalem which today is held by Mohammedan Jordanians. These Christians have approached “a Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem.” (Heb. 12:22) The earth will be as a footstool to them, and here on the footstool is where their human subjects will be found during the thousand years.
9. Religiously, what kind of kingdom will that be?
9 That will be truly a Christian kingdom, and not a kingdom of Christendom such as has oppressed the people and stained the earth with wanton bloodshed, even in the name of religion.
10, 11. (a) Who has ruled mankind invisibly for millenniums, and through what visible agency? (b) Despite what political worship have peace and security failed to come, but when will they come?
10 For thousands of years mankind has suffered from the rule of the invisible Satan the Devil, “the ruler of this world,” together with his “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (John 12:31; 14:30; Eph. 6:11, 12) His visible political system through which he has ruled mankind is likened to a wild beast. The “image” of that symbolic wild beast has been and is another political organization to turn away worship and service from Jehovah God to the political “wild beast.”
11 After World War I that “image” was set up in the form of the political League of Nations, and after World War II in the form of the League’s successor, the United Nations. But, even though the peoples of earth now worship the political “wild beast” through its political “image,” the United Nations, world peace and security do not come to the earth. So the people’s worship of the political state proves vain. Only after the war of Armageddon destroys the “wild beast” and its political “image” will peace and security be ushered in, and that for a thousand years. Then Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords will prove worthy of his foretold title, “Prince of Peace.”—Isa. 9:6, 7; Rev. 19:16-21.
12, 13. (a) Amid this militarized system, what prophecy concerning the “final part of the days” are followers of the Prince of Peace fulfilling? (b) Their displaying the peaceful Christian spirit instead of beastliness was prefigured in what Messianic prophecy?
12 Even now, before the end of this militarized system of things controlled by the diabolical “ruler of this world,” the truly dedicated, baptized followers of the “Prince of Peace” are fulfilling the prophecy concerning this “final part of the days,” namely: “Out of Zion law will go forth, and the word of Jehovah out of Jerusalem. And he will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war any more.” (Isa. 2:2-4) Already among themselves, in their God-ruled congregations around the earth, these formerly divided peoples cultivate and display the peaceful Christian spirit toward one another, instead of beastliness. This was prefigured in the following Messianic prophecy:
13 “The wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand. They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isa. 11:6-9.
14. (a) With what condition will survivors of Armageddon and Satan’s abyssing start out, and how long will this continue? (b) What work will take the lead in all human activities, and with what result?
14 If now, during these war-torn years of this “conclusion of the system of things,” such an ideal condition can obtain among Christ’s true followers, how much more will this peaceful condition prevail without interference among the survivors after the battle of Armageddon removes the earthly rulers and their armies and after Satan and his demons are sealed up in the abyss! Those who survive the battle of Armageddon and the abyssing of Satan will start out with absolute peace, and the heavenly kingdom of Christ and his glorified congregation will preserve that peace on earth for a thousand years. What a time that will be for men to examine the Holy Bible to ascertain more accurately how its prophecies have been faithfully fulfilled! Education concerning the living and true God Jehovah will take the lead in all human activities. The entire earth will literally “be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”
15. (a) How did Jesus in prayer emphasize the vital importance of such education? (b) Such education is really a work of whom, and who will be provided for it?
15 The vital importance of such education can be appreciated from Jesus’ words of prayer to his heavenly Father: “You have given him authority over all flesh, that, as regards the whole number whom you have given him, he may give them everlasting life. This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:2, 3) The educating of his subjects on earth in the knowledge of the only true God and his provision for everlasting salvation through Jesus Christ—this is really a priestly work. Education of the people in God’s law was part of the duties of the priesthood of Israel till the first coming of Christ. Such work fits the fact that the glorified Jesus Christ will be not only a king but also a priest, in fact, God’s High Priest. His resurrected congregation in heaven will be his underpriests. That is why it is prophesied that “they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.” (Rev. 20:6) Education by such priests will lead the earthly subjects of the Kingdom to everlasting life on a paradise earth.
16. What priestly work in behalf of sins will be carried on, and toward what condition will this help the grateful, obedient ones?
16 The priests of Christendom have misrepresented God’s High Priest, Jesus Christ. They will disappear from the earth when Babylon the Great is destroyed just prior to Armageddon. Afterward Christ’s resurrected congregation in heaven will do lifesaving priestly work with him. During the thousand years they will apply the benefits of his perfect ransom sacrifice to mankind. (Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6) Their sins that they commit due to weakness traceable to their first human father Adam and of which they repent will be forgiven them. The condemnation of sin will be removed from them through Christ’s ransom merit. As illustrated by Jesus’ healing work when he was on earth, physical and mental benefits will result from the forgiveness of sins. The Kingdom will maintain righteous conditions on earth and direct the people in the way of righteousness. Also, the priestly work will bring spiritual and physical healing. This will help the grateful, obedient ones back to human perfection such as Adam had when he was created in the paradise garden of Eden.—Matt. 8:14-17; 9:1-12.
HA’DES AND DEATH WIPED OUT
17. How will this priestly work affect the human dead, and what does Revelation 20:5 indicate concerning the “rest of the dead”?
17 Such priestly service will reach down and benefit even the billions of dead humanity. Jesus Christ, God’s High Priest, was himself resurrected from the dead in order to render priestly service for all those for whom he died. His congregation of underpriests are also raised from the dead in the “first resurrection” to share in Christ’s millennial priestly work for mankind. Their resurrection is a guarantee that the rest of the human dead in Haʹdes or Sheol will be raised to life under the Kingdom, during the course of the thousand years. (Acts 17:31; 1 Cor. 15:20-26) This explains why Revelation 20:5 says that “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.”
18, 19. (a) By the end of the thousand years, in what condition will the obedient subjects find themselves? (b) What action will Christ take at the end of mankind’s millennial sabbath under his kingdom?
18 By that time both those who survive the battle of Armageddon and who need no resurrection and those who will be resurrected to life on earth will, if obedient, be lifted to the fullness of perfect human life. No condemnation to death for imperfection will rest upon them then. (Heb. 7:22-27; 5:5-10) With that end in view, Revelation 20:11-14 describes the resurrection of the dead from Haʹdes and the sea. This resurrection marks the beginning of the priestly work in behalf of those who are dead in Haʹdes and the sea.
19 At the end of his priestly work of a thousand years Jesus Christ will turn over the completely healed, purified, perfected subjects of his kingdom to Jehovah God, the final Judge of all. (1 Cor. 15:24-28) There mankind’s millennial sabbath under God’s kingdom by Christ will end. What relief that sabbath has brought!
20. Why must all these perfected humans be then put to the test, and why will Satan the Devil be loosed for a little while?
20 Yet, what immediately follows is important for all mankind. True, they are in human perfection then in a paradise earth. But the right to everlasting life has not yet been bestowed upon all mankind who now stand in perfection and righteousness before the Supreme Judge, Jehovah God. They will all have to prove worthy of being granted that right, just as the perfect Adam and Eve in the paradise of Eden had to prove whether they deserved the right to everlasting perfect human life in an earthly paradise. Just as Adam and Eve were tested out by Satan the Devil, just so all their earthly descendants must be put to the test at the hands of the same Tempter at the close of the thousand years. This is the reason for the loosing of Satan the Devil out of his abysmal prison for a little while after the millennium ends.
21. What question now arises concerning Adam’s perfected descendants, and how does prophecy answer?
21 By then all the wicked work of Satan during the past six thousand years will have been undone. But will the loosed Satan and his demons now be able to turn all perfected mankind away from God as Universal Sovereign just as he turned away mankind’s first human parents in the paradise garden of Eden? Prophecy answers No! There will be those who, under this final crucial test, will stay loyal to Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. These will vindicate God. He will judge them worthy of everlasting life and bestow that right to it upon them, writing their names in his “book of life.”
22. What will be the outcome for those failing under the test, and also for the Tempter, and what will be the result to all heaven and earth?
22 There will be others who will fall under the test. They will make up the unpredicted number of the hosts of Gog and Magog and will be destroyed in the “second death,” from which there is no resurrection. Then Satan the Devil, having now lost in his long controversy with God, will be forever destroyed along with his demons. (Rev. 20:7-10, 15; Matt. 25:41, 46) At last all heaven and earth will be found cleansed of all wickedness and its disastrous consequences. In perfect righteousness, Jehovah God, then fully triumphant, will reign over all forever and ever!
23. What kind of provision is that for the thousand-year reign of Christ, and why should we spread the good news?
23 Viewed from this completed picture of things, O how loving and marvelous is God’s provision for the thousand-year reign of his Priest-King Jesus Christ! O spread the good news that all who love righteousness may rejoice and may prepare themselves for it, because that millennium of deliverance and blessing is near!
[Picture on page 241]
The Millennium, a time for education concerning the true God, Jehovah