Two views prevail about where God’s people will spend the millennium. Fortunately, the Bible gives a clear answer.
I belong to a Bible study group that spent several months studying Revelation during 2005 and 2006. One question that came up was where God’s people will spend the millennium. Some thought that we will spend the millennium on this earth. I maintained that we will spend the millennium in heaven. In this article I will share the biblical reasons why I believe this to be the case.
The millennium is described in Revelation 20. However, in the entire chapter, only verse 4 says anything about God’s people during the millennium. Here is what that verse says:
“I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
The statement that God’s people “came to life” is a reference to the resurrection that will occur at Christ’s second coming. Thus, this verse is a word picture describing God’s people after Christ’s return, during the millennium. However, it is totally silent about where God’s people will be during the millennium. Fortunately, other texts in the Bible, some in Revelation itself, provide significant evidence that they will spend the millennium in heaven.
During His final meal with His disciples, Jesus told them that He would soon be leaving them.1 This news troubled the disciples, so Jesus gave them a comforting response that includes a statement about where His disciples (and you and I) will spend the millennium:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”2
The following outline will help you to understand what Jesus said:
- He would be going to His Father’s “house” (which the Bible says is in heaven3) to prepare a place for His disciples.
- He will return someday.
- When He does, He will take His disciples (including you and me) to be with Him,
- so that all His disciples can be where He is, in heaven.
So according to Jesus Himself, we will be in heaven with Him, not on this earth, after His second coming.
And there’s more.
Separation of the righteous and the wicked
I’ve found that most people who believe the righteous will spend the millennium on this earth also believe that the wicked will inhabit the earth with them. The difference, they say, is that, whereas the wicked rule the world today, after Christ’s second coming, the righteous will rule the world.
The problem with that view is this: Nowhere does the New Testament so much as hint that the righteous and the wicked will live side by side after the second coming of Christ. To the contrary, Jesus made it very plain that the two groups will be separated. In Matthew 13:24–30 Jesus told a parable about a farmer who sowed good seed in his field, and then one night an enemy scattered weed seeds all over the field. Here’s how Jesus interpreted this parable for His disciples:
“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age [at His second coming]. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”4
The italicized words make it very clear that at Christ’s second coming, the angels will separate the wicked from God’s people.
Jesus taught the same lesson in His parable of the sheep and the goats: “ ‘When the Son of Man comes in His glory [that’s His second coming], and all the angels with him, . . . he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.’ ”5 Jesus concluded His parable with this unequivocal statement: “ ‘Then they [the wicked] will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.’ ”6
If the wicked are separated from God’s people at the second coming of Christ, they cannot at the same time be living among them during the millennium.
A devastated planet
The Bible also says that prior to Christ’s second coming, the world will be devastated by terrible natural disasters.
Revelation 7 describes 144,000 righteous people who will live in the world just before Christ’s second coming. Verse 3 says that an angel commands four angels to “hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God [the 144,000] in their foreheads” (KJV). Obviously, once God’s people are sealed, the earth, sea, and trees will be harmed. And earth, sea, and trees are the very parts of our ecology that most concern today’s scientists.
In Revelation 6:12–14 we learn that the world will be shattered by a global earthquake at Christ’s second coming: “I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake, . . . and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” This same earthquake is described in chapter 16:18, which says it will be so severe that “no earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth.” Verse 20 adds that “every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.”
An earthquake so powerful that it flattens out all the world’s mountain ranges and all the islands in the oceans is bound to leave the world an absolute wreck. Think of what New York’s twin towers looked like following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The earthquake at Christ’s second coming will collapse every skyscraper in every city on the face of the earth!
Finally, Jesus Himself said that the tribulation just before His second coming will be so severe that if God didn’t cut it short, “ ‘no one would survive.’ ”7 In other words, the human race would become the next extinct species if God didn’t limit the natural disasters in the world during the final conflict. Christ’s second coming will put a stop to these calamities, but by then our planet won’t be much of a place to live!
Now ask yourself, Will God’s people have to live in that kind of a devastated environment following Christ’s second coming? I believe the answer is No!
What Revelation says
In fact, Revelation says exactly the opposite. It gives us four snapshots of God’s people following Christ’s second coming, and in each one they are in heaven, not on earth.
The first snapshot, in chapter 7, is of “a great multitude that no one could count . . . standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”8 We know, of course, that God’s throne is in heaven. Therefore God’s people will be with Him in heaven.
And notice the ideal condition in which His people will live: “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. . . . And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”9 Again, this is a description of a perfect life in heaven, not life among the wicked on a devastated planet!
The second snapshot of God’s people during the millennium is in Revelation 14. John said, “I looked, and there before me was the Lamb [Christ], standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 . . . [who] sang a new song before the throne.”10 Again, the redeemed are standing before God’s throne in heaven, not on this earth.
The third snapshot, in chapter 15:2, shows us “those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name” standing on a “sea of glass.”11 Revelation 4:6 says that the “sea of glass” is “before the throne,” which, of course, is in heaven.
The contest between God’s people and earth’s beast powers12 is the final conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil on our planet, and the scene in Revelation 15 shows us those who have conquered “the beast and his image.” Thus, the conflict between good and evil is over. God’s people are in heaven, standing before God’s throne. This is obviously after Christ’s second coming, during the millennium.
Revelation’s final snapshot of the righteous after the second coming of Christ, during the millennium, is in chapter 19. And here John said plainly, “After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude [the righteous] in heaven.”13
Thus, the Scriptural evidence is very clear: God’s people will be separated from the wicked at Christ’s second coming, and they will be with God in heaven, not living among the wicked on a devastated planet.
At the conclusion of our study of the millennium, all the people in my Bible study group agreed on the most important issue of all: We each want to spend the millennium with Jesus. That means getting to know Him today and committing to maintain our relationship with Him till He comes.
I invite every reader of Signs of the Times® to make that same commitment!
What’s your view of the millennium? Send us your response, and perhaps we’ll publish it in our “letters” department. You can write a letter to the editor and submit it online on the Letters to the Editors page.
Marvin Moore is the editor of Signs of the Times®.