OK, then, if we are supposed to get fired up and work to see the kingdom of God come on earth, then we ought to at least understand what it is we are working for. We need a picture of what the kingdom of God will be like when it appears. A lack of vision can cause great loss. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov 29:18).
What is the Day of the Lord?
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. —2 Peter 3:10Some things envisioned to take place at this time include: the return of Christ, the righteous putting on immortality, the judgment of the wicked, the destruction of the earth, and so on. These are all true. But many people imagine this “day” to be an almost instantaneous event, or one day as we think of a day. Though this day may come suddenly (like a thief in the night), we should not assume it will be over quickly, or last only one day.
If we only read 2 Peter 3:10 (the passage quoted above), it is easy to view this event as an awesome supernatural act of God that takes place all in one day. Yet, just prior to this picture of the Day of Judgment, Peter gave us an interpretive clue to understanding this day.
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. —2 Peter 3:8One day with the Lord is as a thousand years. This is an important key to understanding the day of the Lord. So, God’s day of judgment is actually a long period of time—one thousand years!
The period in which all these things happen is described in Revelation, chapter twenty. It describes the resurrection of the just, who will rule and reign with Christ in His kingdom for a thousand years. This resurrection is called the first resurrection:
They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. —Revelation 20:4–6At or near the end of this 1,000-year period, many inhabitants of the earth will participate in a rebellion against the kingdom of God. This rebellion will be dealt with quickly; it will be consumed by fire from heaven. After this firestorm, the wicked will be raised to receive eternal judgment (see Rev 20:7–14).
So, we see that this 1,000-year period will begin at the first resurrection—Jesus’ second coming. Though the resurrection of the just and the change to immortality will happen in a moment of time (see 1 Cor 15:51–53), the Day of Judgment will not be brief in its duration, but will last a long time. This day will last 1,000 years and will be a time when Jesus will literally and bodily sit as King of the earth, with the church ruling with Him.
A Picture of the Millennial Kingdom
Part One: Instructions Before He Ascended
Part Two: Activity on Earth Before the Kingdom Appears
Part Three: Return of the Nobleman/Appearing of the Kingdom
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. —Jude 1:14–15This is a picture of the return of Christ at the resurrection of the just, when thousands of saints who have died will be raised up. Then those saints who are alive will be changed, putting on immortality (see 1 Cor 15:52–53). Though this will be a time of war, we will be part of an unstoppable army, an army of immortal saints subduing and judging the world with Christ!
Does this sound extraordinary? Haven’t you heard? The saints will judge the world! (see 1 Cor 6:2) Consider these verses:
To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord. —Psalms 149:7–9And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. —Revelation 2:26–27
So we see that this will be a day of judgment, but judgment that will result in peace. During this Day of the Lord, peace will spread over the whole earth, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (see Isa 11:9).
The Period of Restoration
“Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” —Acts 3:19–21 nasbIn this passage we see that Jesus’ second coming is preceded by times of refreshing and followed by a period of restoration. This period of restoration is the 1,000-year reign of Christ: the millennial kingdom. Though this period may begin with a time of swift judgment, it will be a time of increasing peace and order.
Isaiah foresaw the established kingdom and the Lord judging the nations. He referred to it as the law of the Lord going forth from Jerusalem. The people were coming there to learn of the ways of the Lord and converting their weapons of war to tools of agriculture; the nations no longer learned war (see Isa 2:1–4).
It will be a time when the wolf will lie down with the lamb, the lion will eat hay like the ox, the child will play by the hole of the viper, and nothing shall hurt or destroy, for the whole earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (see Isa 11:6–9).
Micah saw the same vision and spoke of the first dominion being restored to the daughter of Zion (see Micah 4:8). This first dominion is that which God gave to Adam in the Garden of Eden when He said:
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. —Genesis 1:28This period of restoration will result in the earth being restored to a paradise much like the Garden of Eden!
The Last Battle and the End of the Age
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? —2 Peter 3:11–12
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are ruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.After reading this passage, Jesus made a bold statement that would launch His ministry. He said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21 nasb). In saying this, He proclaimed that those things the passage from Isaiah spoke of could be experienced in the present.
However, if we read from the book of Isaiah, we find that Jesus stopped in mid-sentence and did not finish the passage, which then continues, “and the day of vengeance of our God” (see Isa 61:1–2).
Why did Jesus stop short of saying this? Because it was not yet time to exercise vengeance. Though Jesus’ disciples would taste the powers of the age to come and would be sent out to perform miracles like healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, and raising the dead, they would not be sent out to exercise vengeance. At one point they had thoughts of doing so, but Jesus rebuked them.
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