Can you imagine a thousand years without a crime?
Just try to picture it: A thousand years without a war anywhere in the whole world.
A thousand years without any oppression or open animosity between one nation and another, one family and another, one individual and another.
A thousand years without any industry manufacturing, selling or promoting lust, selfish pleasure, or immorality.
A thousand years without any open dishonesty, theft, or fraud.
A thousand years during which the resources of the earth worldwide will be channeled for the benefit of a God-honoring people.
A thousand years without any whisper of child abuse, elder abuse, muggings, rape, divorce or even any bad language.
Do we wonder why Christ’s Millennium reign will bring about a whole new world!
But the Millennium is still not Eternity. When a person who dies at 100 years of age is considered a child, life is long. But people still die. And there is still a subversive element, even though it is held in check. The devil (a symbolic term for sin and all sinners, all opposition to God and Christ), though “chained” (restricted) and in the bottomless pit, is still alive. The words of the ancient prophet are still true: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9).
What has been keeping evil in check? The new authority, Christ and His associates, will rule with a firm hand of justice—firm, though never cruel. Called a “rod of iron” (Rev. 2:26-27), it is law unbreakable. Anyone who would break the law knows he or she cannot do it and live. In this way, evil is held in check. The world is at peace. All would-be troublemakers are restrained by the ever-present reminder: “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it'” (Isa. 30:21).
In Revelation 8:1, that relaxing of law is called “silence in heaven.” The law that had been always coming from heaven, from those in authority, is suddenly silent. Someone curses God and the rulership of Christ—such a one used to drop dead instantly. Now, nothing happens. So he does it again. Nothing happens. His neighbor, who has also been silently rebellious, hears him and joins the outrage. Soon a whole company are in the street, shouting against Christ and His holy ones, rallying supporters to join the protest. At last they are free to express themselves, and no one stops them!
The subversive, rebellious element, restrained for a thousand years, is not dead. The “devil,” a symbol of the opposition, is suddenly out of the bottomless pit and running loose. Even more rebels join the throngs because at this time there is a second resurrection.
The Second Resurrection
The first resurrection, at the time of Jesus’ coming, restored to life those who had served God and died between the time of Adam and Christ’s second advent. They were brought back to life so that they could be judged and rewarded for what they had done, good or bad (Eccl. 12:13-14; 2 Cor. 5:10).
Now it is time for the second resurrection. Those who serve God after Christ’s second coming must also be judged and rewarded. This will include all who lived and died during the Millennium, because all will be acquainted with the laws of God. And because many who died near the beginning of the Millennium will have died as rebels of the new authority, they will come back as they died: rebels. The result: full scale rebellion.
Revelation 20, verse 5 tells of this resurrection. “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.” These “rest of the dead” are those who died since the first, or primary resurrection at Christ’s coming.
It may be difficult to imagine a rebellion following a thousand years of peace and goodwill, a thousand years of quiet living and universal prosperity. But such a rebellion is foretold by the Revelator. We read, “They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city” (Rev. 20:9).
How can it be? Because sin, though held in check under firm law during the Millennium, is not dead. Many, especially the earlier years of the Millennium, likely died because of their determined will to break the law. Perhaps they wanted to show others that they could sin—whether it was to steal, or lie, or murder, or live immorally—and get away with it. Some may have been cut off in the act of crime, as a lesson to other would-be offenders. Restored to life in the resurrection at the end of the Millennium, they will be as they died, sinful and rebellious in heart. It seems reasonable to believe that the rebellion will be instigated by this group rather than by those who lived later during the Millennium.
We read about it in Rev. 20:7-9: “Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan [representing evil and evil workers] will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth,…to gather them together into 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 of the beloved city.”
Do they succeed? Do they overthrow the new government, now one thousand years established? By no means! Divine judgment is quick and severe: “Fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them” (Rev. 20:9).
Are peace and happiness not acceptable to the human race? Must these be forced on them? Can’t they even appreciate them when their benefits are proven? Given opportunity, human nature reverts quickly. Like the children of Israel long ago, who soon forgot the miracles that saved them from the Egyptians, these people, more blessed than any generation who ever lived, will quickly forget their blessings and will be ready to overthrow the rule of Christ and the saints. The Revelator’s phrase, “as the sand of the sea,” indicates a great multitude of rebels, an unrevealed number.
The Last Judgment
One final stroke of justice at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ will separate for all time the righteous and the wicked. All living mortals and all who have been resurrected at this time must stand at this judgment and receive for what they have done, whether good or evil.
We read: “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books” (Rev. 20:12). The books are records made by angel witnesses having the power of God, not necessarily physical books. The use of the “books” points to the fact of absolute justice. Everyone’s deeds are recorded, and by that record each will stand or fall.
The decision of the Judge will be final. The righteous will receive the crown of immortality and become the glorified populace of the Kingdom of God. The wicked will die. They will not be tormented or tortured, but will simply pass out of existence. In the symbolism of Revelation, they are said to be cast into the “lake of fire and brimstone,” which the Revelator clearly defines as “the second death” (Rev. 20:10, 14), a death from which there is no reviving.
The “lake of fire and brimstone” represents complete destruction (2 Thess. 1:9), not literal hell fire. The Bible does not support belief in a literal, burning hell. The word translated hell in the Scriptures is hades (Greek), or sheol (Hebrew), and means a place of darkness, the pit, the grave.
The Death of Death
Following the second resurrection and judgment, the Revelator describes the triumph supreme: the death of death (Rev. 20:14). No longer will death claim loved ones. “Then Death and Hades [the grave] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Death, the last enemy (1 Cor. 15:26) is finally destroyed. Never again will there be death on the earth, and no need for any more graves. The prophecy of Revelation 21 will be fulfilled: “’Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful’” (Rev. 21:3-5).
At last, the Kingdom has come! “Then comes the end” which the Apostle Paul described, and what a glorious end it is! Paul says that the “last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26). Death is cast into the lake of fire. Death is gone. From this point forward there will be no more death. All will be life, glory, and immortality. All who live will live forever!
“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’ But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who puts all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24-28).
Here is a picture of the glorious climax. In all the earth there is no more death. Its work is done and all who live are immortal, made like the angels of God. The work on earth is complete. And “He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold I make all things new.’ And he said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ And He said to me, ‘it is done!’” (Rev. 21:5-6).