When Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on this earth, will everyone experience immediately all the millennial blessings as described in the Bible?
Surprising as it may sound, the answer is no. Part of the reason for this answer is that those who have survived the terrible times of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord and who will still be alive, as human beings, when the Millennium begins, will have to be taught God’s Way of Life and they will have to accept it.
Some, if not many, will not follow God’s Way of Life right away, and in refusing to do so, they will have to suffer the consequences.
In addition, the world will be in a devastating condition, with destroyed cities and polluted landscapes, which will have to be restored and purified. All of this will take some time. It has been proposed that it may take up to two or three generations until mankind will experience the full effect of Christ’s rule on earth.
We read in the Bible that wars will cease, and that man will not want to learn war anymore. He will exchange his weapons of war with useful instruments and tools for agriculture and other peaceful purposes. But some will not accept the Way of Peace right away.
We state the following in chapter 7 of our free booklet, “Biblical Prophecy… From Now Until Forever”:
“An invasion of Asiatic hordes is described in Ezekiel 38 and 39. It will occur after Christ’s return, at the very beginning of His rule over mankind… Jesus Christ will have to complete the remaining three-and-one-half years of His public ministry [compare Daniel 9:27] to the lost sheep of the house of Israel before His rule over all nations in the Millennium can really begin to flourish…
“Christ will free the modern descendants of the houses of Israel and Judah from captivity and ultimately bring them into the Promised Land. They will build the waste cities and inhabit them, live in peace and safety [compare Isaiah 61:4; Ezekiel 36:33]…
“To live God’s way of life is a process of learning and doing it. For instance, we read in the book of Isaiah that Gentile nations will hear about the law of God which will be taught by Christ in Jerusalem, and they will flock there to learn God’s laws as well (Isaiah 2:1-3). They will reach the point where they will not want to learn war anymore (verse 4). We also read that some nations will at first refuse to live by God’s law to observe His annual holy days…
“Ezekiel 39 emphasizes in numerous places that God will destroy the invading army, and that because of God’s intervention, the nations, and especially the nation of Israel, will know that He is the Lord…”
When people refuse to obey God, as some will do at the beginning of the Millennium, God will answer with a language that they will understand. This will include withholding some blessings. For instance, we read in Zechariah 14 that God will withhold rain in due season which is necessary for a prosperous harvest when they refuse to obey Him (compare verses 16-19).
We also read in Ezekiel 38 and 39 that God will strike the attacking armies from the East with a huge earthquake (Ezekiel 38:19-20) and with pestilence, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire and brimstone (verse 22). Those who die will be buried for more than seven months (Ezekiel 39:13-15). At the same time, all weapons will be burned and to be used for firewood for up to seven years (Ezekiel 39:9-10).
Even though God will plague those who disobey Him with a storm, pouring rain and burning heat, He will offer and provide protection to those who accept His Way of Life. Isaiah 4:3-6 tells us:
“And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy–everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the LORD has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.”
We see from this passage that there will be heat, storm and rain at the beginning of the Millennium for those who do not want to submit to God.
We also read that in the Millennium, the nature of animals will change, so that they become truly peaceful and unwilling and unable to harm people (Isaiah 11:6-9). But this does not mean that there will not be any ravenous beast in the Millennium and that the nature of all animals will be changed right away. While no ravenous beast will be close to people to attack them (compare Isaiah 35:8-10), wild beasts and “unclean and hated birds” will still exist for a while (Revelation 18:2). It appears that even the change of the nature of some animals might take a while.
We also read that in the Millennium, man will be healed from his or her sicknesses and diseases. We read in Isaiah 35:5-6: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert.”
We also read in Isaiah 33:24: “And the inhabitant will not say, ‘I am sick’; The people who dwell in it will be forgiven their iniquity.”
But forgiveness of iniquity takes some time. People who have survived the devastation on earth will obtain forgiveness upon repentance. And so, those who are sick might not be healed right away either, but only upon a deep understanding that God’s healing must be based on our acceptance of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Such recognition and acceptance might not occur right away. This might be one reason why there will be, at first, animal sacrifices in the Millennium. We state the following in chapter 8 of our above-mentioned booklet:
“The Bible shows that at the beginning of the Millennium, after Gog’s armies are destroyed (compare Ezekiel 38 and 39), God will reinstitute animal sacrifices at a newly built temple in Jerusalem… It is very possible that the sacrifices will only be given during the remaining three-and-one-half years of Christ’s public ministry…
“It is important to understand that the millennial sacrifices will NOT be brought for the purpose of forgiveness of sin! Only Christ’s shed blood accomplished this—once and for all! But God introduced the sacrificial system to ancient Israel because Israel had sinned and the sacrifices served as a reminder of their sins. Apparently, for the same reason in the Millennium, sacrifices will be brought so that carnal, unconverted people can begin to appreciate the awesome purpose and meaning of Christ’s Sacrifice and how God looks at sin…”
Once unconverted people come to understand the all-encompassing significance of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, animal sacrifices will apparently cease. But while animal sacrifices are being given, complete physical healing might be delayed. On the other hand, we read in Ezekiel 47:12 that God will provide trees to be used for food and their leaves for medicine or healing. The existence of such “healing” leaves suggests that at first, not everyone living in the Millennium will be healed right away.
This conclusion is confirmed in Zechariah 8:3-4, where we read: “Thus says the LORD: ‘I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the LORD of hosts, The Holy Mountain.’ Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Old men and old women shall again sit In the streets of Jerusalem, Each one with his staff in his hand Because of great age.”
This picture alludes to those old people who will have survived the Great Tribulation; they are worn out “with old age, and therefore obliged to use a staff when they walk the streets for their support” (so Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible). There is no reason to believe that they will not be healed even of such feebleness in due time, but they will live with it for a while, even though they will live happily and peacefully.
Having said all of this, the Millennium will be a unique joyous experience for all humans. One might ask why God will not use “a magic wand” and change everything immediately for the better. The reason should be clear. Man has to learn to follow Him. They are free moral agents with a free will. God wants them to develop character by making right decisions from the heart. It is their choice, not God’s. But God will withhold blessings when we refuse to obey Him. This is true now and it will be true in the Millennium.
As we are being trained today to become immortal Spirit beings and members of the God Family in His Kingdom, so those human beings living into the Millennium and being born during the 1,000 year-reign of Christ will have the same potential. But we do not believe that anyone who will be born as a human being in the Millennium [or, for that matter, who will be raised in the Great White Throne Judgment period] will be born [or resurrected] with any birth defect or with any sickness. What we have addressed in this Q&A applies strictly to those humans who will survive the terrible times to come prior to Christ’s return and who will then be able to experience Christ’s establishment of His government here on earth.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link