THE MILLENNIUM AND THE END OF SIN
The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close, Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever.
(Rev. 20; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Jer. 4:23-26; Rev. 21:1-5; Mal. 4:1; Eze. 28:18, 19.)
1. WHAT IS THE MILLENNIUM?
The Bible speaks of a millennium, a thousand-year period of time where God’s people will be dwelling in heaven with Him while Satan and his fallen angels will be bound on earth.
The simplest way to understand the millennium is to go straight to the source. The book of Revelation gives a clear description of how this thousand-year piece of time is going to unfold.
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with 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. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:1-6, ESV, emphasis added).
This millennium, this thousand-year period, takes place between the first and second resurrection: the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked. It begins with Satan being locked up in a pit, along with all the angels who chose to follow him (Revelation 12:4).
So where is this pit where Satan is to be locked up so he ‘might not deceive the nations any longer’? Though the Bible doesn’t specifically state it, we can infer this pit refers to the earth after the resurrection of the saints.
All the righteous have already been taken up to Heaven to live with Christ (Revelation 20:4), and the wicked are still dead in their graves (Revelation 20:5). There is no one on earth for Satan to deceive. The entire planet is empty, left in ruins, without a single human being (Jeremiah 4:24-26).
During that time, God’s people will be with Him in heaven. Everyone who chose Jesus Christwill be there. The believers will “reign with Christ for a thousand years,” spending the millennium in the joys and wonders of heaven.
This is the reward God promises to anyone who believes in Him, accepts Christ’s grace, and follows His commandments (Matthew 5:8).
2. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE MILLENNIUM?
Although it might sound perfectly wonderful and exciting to be spending our time in Heaven with Jesus, the question still remains about what we’ll be doing during the Millennium. What exactly is going to be happening during these thousand years?
What will reigning with Christ entail? The book of Revelation gives us some clues on this as well. It mentions thrones and judgment (Revelation 20:4), but let’s look for more details.
The Apostle Paul offered this insight:
“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3 ESV).
During the Millennium we will be allowed to go through the records God has been keeping since earth began (Revelation 20:12). God is going to read the records and judge the case of every person who’s ever lived, and we get to hear it all.
We’ll witness these people’s lives, understand their motives, and see whether they ultimately chose the side of Christ or Satan. We will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God truly is a good and righteous judge.
And what of Satan and his angels? What will they be doing during the thousand years? The Bible tells us that he’ll be stuck on earth with no one left to deceive.
The human beings he tricked into following him are all dead and he is left with nothing but the remains of a ruined planet. Perhaps this is God’s final act of mercy towards him.
Perhaps the Millennium is meant to be Satan’s last chance to look around and see where his arrogance and rebellion have led him. We can only speculate.
It does say, however, that Satan is put in the one place where he can’t hurt anyone anymore. And it promises that after the Millennium, his evil deeds will be finished for good.
3. HOW WILL SIN END?
It’s no secret that the world we live in is broken. It’s been that way ever since humanity rebelledin the Garden or Eden. But God promised us that this won’t always be the case.
Jesus will return one day and put an end to sin, just as God promised through the prophet Malachi:
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.
But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 4:1-3 ESV).
God’s word assures us that sin will one day be destroyed and the earth will be made whole again, just like it was in the Garden of Eden. The book of Revelation tells us exactly how it will happen.
As the millennium comes to a close, God will remove the Holy City from Heaven and send it down to earth, ready to heal the planet He created.
“And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.
And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur…” (Revelation 20:7-10 ESV).
When God returns to earth to cleanse it, He begins what is known as the second resurrection, the resurrection of the wicked. This is when all those who rebelled against God, who refused Jesus and sided with Satan, will be brought back to life to be judged (Revelation 20:5).
When Satan sees all these people brought back to life, he tries his hand at one final deception. He urges all the wicked to turn and attack the Holy City, claiming that they can conquer it and take it as their own.
Satan and his army march right up to the Holy City and prepare to attack, but their rebellion is short-lived. Fire falls from heaven and burns them up, leaving nothing but ashes. Satan and his followers are utterly destroyed.
Those who chose the side of sin and rebellion will be consumed in an instant. Satan however, the one responsible for this whole deception, will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur.
Revelation says that Satan will burn forever and ever (Revelation 20:10). This, however, does not mean that Satan will be spending all of eternity burning in torment.
Satan is not immortal, nor would God leave him in a state of constant torture for all of eternity. Scripture says that only the righteous will have eternal life (1 John 2:17).
However, Satan’s punishment will be forever in the sense that it will be permanent. Once Satan is destroyed, nothing in all creation can bring him back. And with Satan’s ultimate death, evil dies too, releasing the hold it once had on our world.
This is what the end of sin looks like. With the fall of Satan and his followers, the corruption that has plagued the earth will finally be eradicated. The disease will be burned away, and the whole earth will be cleansed.
This is what Scriptures means when it talks of the “second death” (Revelation 20:6), a permanent destruction from which there can be no resurrection. Those who experience the second death are gone for good, including Satan.
When he is thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, he is finished. The sin he brought into the world can never return again. With Satan’s final destruction, evil is ended forever, and God’s kingdom can return to the glorious paradise it was always meant to be.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true”” (Revelation 21:1-5 ESV).
This may be the most beautiful passage in all of scripture. It holds Jesus’ ultimate promise, that one day He will come back for us and make everything right again. All wounds will be healed, all losses will be restored. We will be His people, like we were always meant to be, living in joy and peace with Him for all eternity. What a glorious day that will be.
4. HOW DOES THE MILLENNIUM IMPACT US TODAY?
Christ’s promised Second Coming may feel like a distant vision, but the message of the Millennium can give us great hope for the future, and motivate us to share the Gospel to those around us.
It also reminds us that we will all have to give an account of ourselves one day (2 Peter 3:10-14). Yet we learn that God is a good and righteous judge and He won’t allow sin to rule forever. Eventually, He will put an end to evil and death, making the whole world right again.
Knowing that evil will ultimately be destroyed—what can top that! How wonderful it will be to know that the broken world we live in won’t last forever and that God is already preparing a better home for us where we can live with Him.