The thousand year reign of Jesus Christ on this earth will be a time of restoring, rebuilding and of turning man to his Creator. But what happens when the thousand years is over?
John was given a startling insight into the answer to that question on the Isle of Patmos. He received, directly from Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:8-19), a vision of a future world. He prophetically saw conditions thousands of years beyond his own time. It must have been a mind-boggling experience for the elderly apostle! John saw apocalyptic visions concerning both the immediate and the distant future, including the millennium.
Satan will be temporarily loosed from his prison at the end of the millennium, he will go out to deceive and mobilize those who are still gullible enough to follow him. (Man will always be a free moral agent).Then his human followers will be destroyed and Satan will be tormented forever. Apparently his being cast into the lake of fire is a statement on his spiritual condition. He is “twice dead,” beyond spiritual repair so to speak. He cannot or will not repent. He must be eternally punished. The book of Jude may indicate something of Satan’s fate: “These are blemishes on your love feasts (Church feasts), as they boldly carouse together, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, carried along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 12-13).
We know this is referring to human individuals who were fellowshipping with the true believers of Jude’s day, but it could also be typifying the angels who rebelled against God at an earlier time (cf. Jude 6). Stars are sometimes used as symbols for angels (Rev. 1:20). But the language is highly figurative and excessive literalization could well distort the intended meaning.
In any event, we know that Satan will be punished for all eternity. He will never again tyrannize mankind or darken the surface of God’s good earth. The works of the destroyer will themselves be destroyed (I John 3:8).
Once Satan is finally out of the picture another spectacular event will occur. John describes it in Rev. 20:5: “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.” At the end of the millennium there will be a great resurrection of all those who were not included in the first resurrection which occurred at the beginning of the millennium (Rev. 20:4). This will include the broad mass of all humanity throughout history! These millions will then be given their first opportunity for salvation.
At the conclusion of this period, commonly called the “Great White Throne Judgment,” all those who insist on going their own way will be punished. All who have refused the hand of a loving God who wanted nothing more than to give them eternal life and joy forevermore will find themselves eternally “terminated”! “Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death (hence the expression “twice dead”), the lake of fire, and if any one’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15).
At this juncture, all people who have ever lived will be in one of two possible states: 1) They will have become immortal members of the Family of God; or 2) they will have ceased to exist! God’s millennial phase of the plan of salvation will be complete. At this point Jesus will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having fulfilled His will. Paul describes this in I Cor. 15:22-28: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For God has put all things in subjection under his feet. But when it says, all thing are put in subjection under him, it is plain that he is accepted who put all things under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one (all in all).”
Jesus Christ will have successfully carried out God’s plan during the millennial period. The whole universe will have been subdued. Everything will be under God’s control. Death will be a thing of the past; the vast majority of human beings who have ever lived will have achieved salvation through Christ. Jesus will hand over the reins to His Father in complete obedience and submission.
The universe will now be readied for the next, and most dramatic phase of the divine plan!
“Then,” John wrote, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God Himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away’”! (Rev. 21:1-4.)
What an incredible vision! God the Father coming down to dwell with men in totally New Jerusalem! A totally refurbished earth! The ultimate utopia!
Can you imagine it? A pain-free world in which there will be no death, crying, or misery of any kind! A world in which God and Christ reign side by side over a peaceful, eternal Kingdom. That is exactly what John envisioned. And he saw the New Jerusalem in great detail. He gives us a vivid description of it in Rev. 21:15-21. Read those incredible verses and try to wrap your mind around the concept of such a magnificent city!
Notice the fantastic words of verses 22-23: “And I saw no temple in the city, for the temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb (Christ).And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb”!
Here we see the final, magnificent culmination of God’s new age! The light of God will fill the universe! It will be a glorious age of unparalleled grandeur. “And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever (Rev.22:5).
Today we see through a darkened glass. Our vision of the new world to come is limited by our own humanity. But God is still on His throne in the heavens. He is still working out His master plan step by step. Each day we come closer to the end of this present evil age and nearer to that final glorious age of ages. All of mankind was created to be included in that new world of righteousness and peace. God wishes to share that eternal blessing with every human being who ever lived from the time of Adam to the last human to be born of woman. God wants you to be a part of His utopia!
Whether you are privileged to be there or not is at least partly up to you. If God has called you and revealed this truth to you, it is up to you to act upon it. “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come’ And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price” (Rev. 22:17). God has made His appeal. What will be your response? He says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city (new Jerusalem) by the gates” (v. 14).
To “wash your robes” means to “clean up” your life, to repent and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master forever! It means to yield yourself in obedience to the law of Christ and to have faith in His sacrifice. It means to become reconciled to God from whom you have been alienated by your sins (Isa. 59:2). It means to turn from Satan’s way and submit to God’s. This is Satan’s world (II Cor. 4:4). Those who lived Satan’s way (John 8:44; Eph. 2:1-2; I John 3:8) will find that they will perish along with his world. It was the same apostle John who wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever” (I John 2:15-17).
In God’s new world there will be no evil, no rebellion, and no injustice – only love, peace, harmony and beauty. Those who choose to go their own way will be allowed to do so, right on into the lake of fire! They will not be included in the Kingdom of God. God will not force them to submit to Him. He says, “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy” (Rev. 22:1). Such people will not be included in God’s eternal plan: “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who love and practice falsehood” (v. 15). But God also says, “And the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy” (v. 11, last part). It is these who will be included in the New Jerusalem of God! Those who decide now to accept God’s great invitation will dwell with Him for all eternity.
A new age is coming and you can be included in it. Jesus says to you and me, “behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:12, 20).