Have you ever wondered what Heaven will be like and how we will fill our time? I say “fill our time” because time is what we know, even though we all know eternity has no such markers. I remember in my early twenties (I won’t mention how long ago that was 😜), sitting on the entry steps to an apartment building with a friend of mine, talking about this very subject. What will we do in Heaven?
I attended church at the time but can’t say I had a personal relationship with Jesus. I knew of Him, but I didn’t really know Him. I wasn’t stilling my soul and sitting at His feet to listen to His voice. Not yet, anyway. So the idea of going to Heaven and enjoying the pleasure of His company for all eternity seemed to me, welp, rather boring! Both my friend and I came to the conclusion that we would rather live a long, full life here on earth before traipsing off Heavenward. Why? Because we thought this life was the life! We saw this fleshly body as who we were in total, not realizing that we are spirit beings wrapped in flesh, and our time here on earth is a mere vapor compared to the existence of a soul throughout eternity.
I don’t know about you, but for me, I grew up with the idea that salvation was a type of “fire” insurance to guarantee that we would go to heaven when we died instead of hell. I was taught that the Kingdom of God was a pie in the sky in some sweet by and by, and in reality had nothing to do with this life here and now. I remember learning that at Jesus’ second coming, He would obliterate the earth we live on and establish a new heaven and a new earth, but that we would all be raptured out of here before then (so not to worry), and that we would all live in heaven happily ever after – no more tears, no more suffering, no more dying.
Really, I wish I could tell you how surprised and even shocked I was to find out that those traditional things did not hold water! There was a hint of the truth in all of them, of course, but the whole was extremely misleading and in my personal opinion has caused great harm to the body of Christ. Instead of understanding the FULL implications surrounding the fact that His Kingdom is eternal, both present and future, both here with us now and to come later, without boundaries because wherever a believer is, there is the Kingdom; instead of understanding that Christians in fact DO suffer – all of us – and that it is the expected “norm” to endure suffering and learn to be overcomers rather than take on a mantle of “escapism”; instead of believing that this planet earth is destroyed upon Christ’s second coming (which sets us up for the idea of abandoning it – after all, why polish the brass on a sinking ship); and instead of understanding that death is not destroyed until the end of the millennial reign of Christ… Instead of all that, we chose to hold the traditions of men and thereby made void the word of God (Mark 7:13, Matthew 15:9).
This happens when we choose to allow what we hear during a church service to be all that we ever hear, never taking the time to check, verify, affirm, or build our individual faith through the personal one-on-one teachings of scripture by the Holy Spirit. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way! The Holy Spirit is still here! He is our teacher, our guide to all truth, our comforter, our friend, our counselor, and more! He can and most emphatically does use sermons, books, audio teachings, videos, and conversations – yes – but all of that was meant to enhance, not to replace.
So what does the bible teach us about the millennial reign of Christ? It is super fascinating and filled with wonderment and beauty! Reading once again through the book of Revelation not long ago, I was reminded of this as I reviewed Revelation chapters 20 and 21. Oh, precious beloved of God, I encourage you to read it too – all of it! Revelation is not the big scary book it’s been made out to be as long as you have the basic understanding of four simple things:
- God wins, Satan loses
- Believers overcome
- Revelation is the only book that clearly states the reader is blessed by the reading of it (of course we know that we are blessed by all of scripture, but this gives us a hint there is something extra special here for us)
- God’s wrath is not poured out on His children
In case you’re curious about the millennial, here are a few highlights:
20 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years...
6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. 7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth... 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever...
21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
It is in these passages that we learn that the new heaven and new earth come after the millennial reign, and the millennial reign comes after the second coming of Christ (this is found in Revelation chapter 19). Death, mourning, suffering – all are abolished, but also after the millennial reign. Christ returns to reign on this earth, in it’s fallen state, for a thousand years. We know this because suffering and death have not yet been put away, and Satan has not yet been sent to the lake of fire. The knowledge that Christ’s millennial reign is over a still fallen world helps us to also understand how it is that, when Satan is released, he is once again able to deceive nations! Oh, I could go on and on about what else it means and literally how UNboring eternity will truly be, and how everything we establish in truth and the Kingdom of God carries from one age into the next – but I recognize this blog would be too long to hold the attention of most at that point. So if you are intrigued, I would encourage you to get alone with the Holy Spirit and, with bible in hand, start asking a lot of questions.