CHAPTER 29: THE NATIONS IN THE MILLENNIUM
It is reasonable
to think that to some degree the curse of differing languages given
at the tower of Babel will be reduced in the Millennium. However,
there are many references to nations coming to worship the
Lord, and submitting to His Gospel. The final rebellion will be
due to the nations being gathered by Gog and Magog. However,
before the time of Babel, there was still some concept of nationhood.
After the flood (before the time of Babel), " the Gentiles
(were) divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after
their families, in their nations...the sons of Shem, after their
families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations...by
these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood. And
the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech" (Gen.10:5,31-11:1).
Thus the world was of one language but of different tongues.
This indicates that they had one language, but many different dialects,
which clearly divided the people into nations.
It is easy to imagine
such a scenario in the Millennium too. If we will have the miraculous
gifts of the Spirit again in the Millennium, this will include that of
tongues- being able to preach in foreign languages. We have shown that
the possession of tongues at Pentecost was but a foretaste of the situation
in the Kingdom. The need for tongues is proof that there will still be
language barriers in the Kingdom. Note that the Pentecostal gift was to
speak in different (Jewish?) 'dialektos', i.e. dialects, which were fundamentally
different. Likewise there may be one universal language in the Millennium
(Hebrew?), which will be spoken with such different dialects that there
will still effectively be language barriers in the Millennium. The fact
that there was only one language gave the people of the world the opportunity
to unite around a single objective- the building of Babel (Gen.11:6).
That objective will doubtless change to the building up of glory to God
rather than man, in the Millennium.
1 Cor.15:24 speaks of
" the end" of the Millennium, when he will have put down "
all rule and all authority and power" ; he will reign until "
all enemies" are subdued. There will still be enemies of Christ throughout
the Millennium; and there will also be human rulers and powers opposed
to Him, to some degree, until they are finally subdued at " the end"
of the Millennium. As Solomon's reign featured local rulers still existing
in surrounding lands, so there is reason to think that Christ's Kingdom
will still feature local human rulers of some kind, who may not be forced
to be subject to Him. It takes time for the little stone to destroy the
kingdoms of men, and totally establish God's Kingdom. Zeph.3:19 speaks
of the Jews getting glory and praise in every nation which have persecuted
them. The lands of their dispersion, Russia,
Germany etc., will then recognize the spiritual status of God's people.
This in itself implies that humanity will not be one homogeneous mass.
The nations will decide to go up to worship God at Jerusalem (Zech.14:16);
hinting at some kind of high level national decision by their leaders,
as well as the individual desire of ordinary people from all nations?
The invitation to come
up to Jerusalem will go forth early in the reign of Jesus; " every
one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall
even go up from year to year..." (Zech.14:16). Another proof of this
is in the description of the graves of Gog stopping the noses of "
the passengers" during the seven months in which Gog lies unburied
(Ez.39:11,12). These " passengers" surely refer to the mortals
who are coming up to Jerusalem to seek the Lord, in the immediate aftermath
of Gog's destruction. We have shown earlier that the motivation behind
these pilgrimages will be to find the greater knowledge of God. "
Peace" will be given in the future temple (Hag.2:9)- " the peace
of Jerusalem" . The " mountain" of the Kingdom will gradually
" be exalted above the hills" , i.e. the small nations which
still exist in the Millennium.
" Peace" usually
refers to the peace with God which comes through forgiveness. Forgiveness
will therefore in some sense be granted at Jerusalem. This could well
be a reference to the keeping of a day of Atonement in the Millennium;
forgiveness can be granted at any time, but its granting will be formalized
at that feast. Zion will therefore be " the joy of the whole earth"
because it will symbolize the victory over sin which is possible in Christ.
Thus Ps.47:6 prophesies the people singing praises to God " with
understanding" . The praise will not just be a pressure-release after
the traumas of the last days. The same thing is hinted at in Jer.3:17.
" The nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord,
to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of
their evil heart" . They will not come to Jerusalem from fascination;
but through loving God's Name /character, and having forsaken their
sins. Mic.4:2 likewise describes the people going up to the temple because
they have decided " to walk in His paths" . Again, the nations
coming to Jerusalem is associated with their repentance, and desire to
grow in the knowledge of God which comes through experiencing forgiveness.
If we are to be the
ones who lead them to Jerusalem, we must now develop a fine love of spirituality;
not seeing the Kingdom in terms of physical fulfilment, but as the ultimate
expression of the character of God which we love. In our preaching of
the Gospel of the Kingdom, we need to inculcate a love of God's ways,
so that people will desire to be baptized for the right reason; they will
wish to be in the Kingdom so that they can glorify His righteous character.
All too often we preach to people with our eye on their baptism as being
the end result; rather than seeing our duty to change their way of thinking,
so that they will join the path which will lead to an eternity of God
manifestation in His Kingdom. Likewise with the teaching of our children.
It's not just a question of getting them under that water; 'Well, they're
in! I haven't been too bad a failure in life'.
Praise In The Millennium
The nations will come
with singing to Zion; as Solomon taught the people songs of spiritual
wisdom, so may Christ. In the Kingdom, David said that he would "
Praise thee with the psaltery...with the harp" (Ps.78:20-23; this
is in a Kingdom context). This may imply that the saints use literal instruments
in God's praise. However, we must not be too human about this. The reason
for that praise is all important. In the Millennium, " the sacrifice
of praise" will be brought " into the house of the Lord"
, " for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for
ever" (Jer.33:11). Notice how praise is likened to an animal sacrifice.
The same careful preparation which was lavished on them will be put into
preparing our praises to God. It will not be wholly spontaneous; that
is a human concept of praise. Men will " sacrifice the sacrifice
of thanksgiving" , as David wished that men would have done under
the Old Covenant (Ps.107:21-23). Lev.7:12 describes the peace offering
as " the sacrifice of thanksgiving" . The use of this same phrase
in a Kingdom context in Ps.107 suggests that the equivalent of the peace
offering will be in our prayers to God, being a mixture of freewill devotion
and careful preparation. And in this life, we must also offer this "
sacrifice of praise" ; the spirit of the Mosaic Law, e.g. the peace
offering, must be fulfilled in us; the Law was not just destroyed
full stop. Thus the praise of God at Jerusalem will not be a glorified
Billy Graham rally; the praise of God will be motivated by the correct
understanding of God, through the instruction of His word and the real
experience of God's character in His forgiveness.
ISRAEL IN THE
Jer.31:7 speaks of how
Israel in the Millennium will say " Arise! Let us go up to Zion,
unto the Lord our God" after their acceptance of the New Covenant.
Their enthusiasm will spread to the surrounding Gentiles; their
pilgrimage to Zion is described in almost identical language (Is.2:3).
Zech.8:22 describe how " ten men shall take hold out of all languages
of the nations (implying there are still nations and languages) of the
skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you" . This seems
to be talking about the early years of the Millennium, when Israel first
go up to Zion from their dispersion. Thus in the Millennium the Jews will
" walk up and down in His Name" (Zech.10:12), declaring the
Name/character of God, showing His mercy by their very existence and glorification.
Thus they will fulfil God's original purpose for them; that they should
be a missionary nation, witnessing His Name to the world. " Keep
therefore and do them (the commandments); for this is your wisdom...in
the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes (by Israel
speaking of them), and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding
The Jews will have the
gifts of the Spirit in the Millennium (Joel 2:29-32). These will include
the very important gift of prophecy; i.e. speaking forth the inspired
words of God. This may suggest that the Bible will not be the only textbook
for the mortals; God's revelation to the mortals may be through the Jews'
We know from the way
in which the little stone gradually fills the whole earth that the fullness
of the Kingdom will not immediately fill the whole earth the moment that
Jesus is back on earth. There is reason to think that many of the Kingdom
prophecies of great future blessing will apply mainly to natural Israel
and their land. It is the Negev (" the wilderness...the
desert, in Israel) which will rejoice and " blossom abundantly"
. This is certainly how the Jews of Isaiah's day would have understood
this. The weak hands and feeble knees of the latter day Jewish remnant
will be strengthened by the knowledge that " your God will come with
vengeance...he will come and save you" , i.e. Israel. " Then
the eyes of the blind shall be opened...then shall the lame man
(cp. " feeble knees" ) leap...and an highway shall be there
(in Israel)...the ransomed of the Lord shall return
(along that highway)
and come to Zion" , where it terminates (Is.35).
THE SPREAD OF THE
We know from the way
in which the little stone gradually fills the whole earth that the fullness
of the Kingdom will not immediately fill the whole earth the moment that
Jesus is back on earth. Kingdoms are often described as mountains. They
are also composed of people; the spread of the mountain/Kingdom therefore
refers to the progressive conversion of the mortals, and their subsequent
experience of the Kingdom conditions in their lives, for example as outlined
in Is.65:20-25. We have earlier shown that passages like this only apply
to the mortals who accept the Gospel. Seeing that they will progressively
accept it as the stone spreads world-wide, it follows that the conditions
of the Kingdom such as fertile lands, lack of pain in childbearing etc.,
will also spread gradually and selectively. " They shall not hurt
nor destroy in all my holy mountain" , which will spread world-wide
(Is.11:9). These conditions will therefore spread, in accordance with
the acceptance of the Gospel. The animals will not fight each other in
the " holy mountain" (Is.11:7-9); but Ezekiel's prophecies teach
that it will be possible to try to offer a mauled animal in the Millennium.
Such an animal would therefore have come from the areas which are not
yet part of the " holy mountain" .
" There shall be
no more thence" , i.e. in Jerusalem and " my people"
, the frustrations of this present life (Is.65:19-21) is further indication
that the Kingdom conditions will not be universal, but will be specific
to the land of Israel, the natural Jews, and the mortal believers who
respond to the Gospel. " They (" mine elect" )...shall
not plant and another eat" etc. The fact that there will still be
freewill among the mortals, their human nature will not have been changed,
means that there will be a fair degree of rejection of the Gospel; and
therefore the Kingdom conditions will not be absolutely universal. Is.61:5
speaks of how in the Millennium " strangers shall stand and feed
your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your
vinedressers" , although in Is.65:21-24 we are told that God's people
will no longer be vinedressers or agricultural labourers for others. Under
the Law of Moses, it was God's intention that each Israelite should have
their own vineyard (Ex.22:5); and we have seen that the Law was a prophecy
of the conditions of the Millennium for Israel. The conclusion
from all this must be that Is.65:21-24 is not speaking about the experience
of every mortal person in the Millennium, but rather about that
of natural Israel and those mortals who accept the Gospel.
The following passages
give a clearer picture of the Kingdom spreading:
- " The mountains
shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness"
(Ps.72:3). These " mountains" must refer to the constituents
of the great mountain of the Kingdom; the " little hills" must
refer to us, who will bring peace to the mortals by teaching them the
Gospel of God's love and righteousness. Peace will be brought to
the people like this, in the same way as the little stone spreads gradually.
- " Thy seed (Jesus)
will I establish...and build up thy throne to all generations" (Ps.89:4)
implies that the throne of Christ will be built up, or expanded, throughout
the Millennium. Likewise I Cor.15 speaks of Christ's rulership over the
nations growing progressively until " the end" of the Millennium.
- " Of the increase
of His government and peace there shall be no end" (Is.9:7) must
also refer to the gradual spread of the Gospel of peace with God.
- " When
the poor and needy (language often used in Isaiah about those who recognize
their spiritual poverty) seek water...I the Lord will hear them...I will
open rivers...I will make the wilderness a pool of water" (Is.41:17-19)
suggests that the conditions of the Kingdom will not come indiscriminately
upon the mortals. When men (natural Israel, in the strict context of Is.41)
truly seek God, then the physical blessings are given to them.
- Because of the physical
blessings which will come with acceptance of the Gospel, there will be
much " feigned obedience" of the type spoken of earlier; as
there was in the first century, due to the presence of the Holy Spirit
gifts. However, there is reason to think that there will be many genuine
converts in the Millennium. We are the " firstfruits" of all
God's spiritual creation; indicating that many more people will be converted
to God in the Millennium than those who have been redeemed during the
previous 6000 years of God's purpose?
- " Thus
saith the Lord, in an acceptable time have I heard thee" (Is.49:8)
is quoted by Paul in 2 Cor.6 about us. The next verse, Is.49:9, must therefore
also be about us: " That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth;
to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves...they shall not hunger
nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath
mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water" . In
the same way as we have experienced the " acceptable time"
in this life, so we will be able to encourage the mortals to make use
of the " accepted time" of the Millennium. It is when
they do this that " they shall not hunger nor thirst" .
- Likewise Ps.67:5,6
speaks of the people praising God in the Millennium; and " then
shall the earth yield her increase" , when the peoples of the earth
properly praise God. Again, we see that the blessings of the Kingdom are
related to peoples' acceptance of the Gospel.
- " So thou
shalt do the seventh day of the month...and for him that is simple"
(Ez.45:20) surely speaks of a sacrifice for sins of ignorance. That there
will be ignorance shows that the Gospel will not be fully spread to everyone
immediately, and therefore the Kingdom will also spread rather than be
a condition which arises overnight on the whole earth.
- Our thesis is nicely
summarized by Ezekiel's prophecy of the river of water of life (representing
the Gospel) going out from Jerusalem, with the result that wherever it
went, a forest of healthy trees sprung up, and healing was brought to
the nations. This shows how the physical blessings of the Kingdom will
only be given in relation to peoples' response to the Gospel. " Everything
shall live whither the river cometh" , both naturally and spiritually
(Ez.47:9). It is to this verse which Jesus alluded in Jn.7:38: "
As the Scripture hath said (in Ezekiel), he that believeth in me, out
of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" . Through our preaching
with the Spirit, we will be this river of living water. However "
that which shall not be healed, they shall be given to salt" (Ez.47:11
A.V.mg.) shows that some will refuse our preaching. Salt is used in Scripture
as a figure of God's judgment and a place which is uninhabited (Dt.29:23;
Jud.9:45; Jer.17:6). This means that in the Millennium, there will be
some places which are " salt" due to their rejection of our
Gospel. Again, we see reason to believe that the whole earth will
not necessarily have the conditions of the Kingdom which we are familiar
- " The mountains
(us) shall drop down new wine" (Joel 3:18) speaks of our preaching
of the Gospel; " drop down" is a Hebraism often used of doctrine
dropping down. Yet here the mountains result in wine and milk dropping
down; as if the dropping down of doctrine is related to that of physical
- Jesus will have a
Kingdom, the house of Jacob, which shall have no end (Lk.1:33). We know
that " of the increase" of His Kingdom there will be
no end; surely meaning that Christ's domination of the believers' minds
will grow and grow; our relationship with Christ will grow progressively
deeper. Likewise the grip which He has on the lives of the mortal believers
will also increase. " Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability
of thy times" , and therefore as those things progressively increase,
so will the peace and stability of the physical and spiritual environment
in which the mortal believers live.
CHAPTER 30: THE NATURAL CREATION
The Spiritual Aspect Of The Natural Creation
There is good reason
to think that God does not wish us to perceive the natural creation as
having no spiritual sensitivity at all. Seeing that the Angels control
the natural world, each of its elements to some degree manifests them.
This may be the reason for the following Biblical hints that we are meant
to recognize a certain degree of spiritual awareness in the natural creation:
- Man who does not know
God's ways is like the animals (Ps.48:20). Yet all men have some degree
of moral consciousness. Seeing that they are in the same spiritual state
as the animals with regard to responsibility to God, is it possible to
infer that animals too have a certain level of morality? Can they too
discern God's ways and be aware of Him, without being responsible to Him?
- God spoke to Daniel's
lions, to Balaam's donkey and to Elijah's ravens. Those animals are portrayed
as being responsive to God's commands. Thus at the end of the book of
Job we read of Leviathan praying to God, asking Him for things (Job 41:3).
God even speaks of Himself as playing with His animal creation, having
a master/servant relationship with them (Job 41:4,5).
- The trees and plants
rejoice because of the prospect of the second coming (Ps.96:12-14 cp.
Acts 17:31). Josephus records that there were many strange signs in the
natural creation in the run up to AD70; as there will be in the last days
which they prefigured?
- " The young lions...seek
their meat from God...they all wait upon thee" (Ps.104:21) for their
food; as Leviathan also prayed to God for his food.
- Rom.8:21 may have
some reference to the natural creation. The whole of creation earnestly
looks forward to the manifestation of the sons of God. The whole of creation
was made " subject to vanity, not willingly" - it was not their
fault that the curse came upon them. " The whole of creation
groaneth and travaileth in pain together" , longing to share in the
manifestation in glory of God's spiritual creation. The sadness and bitterness
of the animal creation is due to their longing for that day of "
the glorious liberty of the children of God" in which they will share.
- Jer.8:7,8 uses the
" stork in the heavens" as an exhortation to wayward Israel.
He says that the animals have a sense of future events which will be brought
by the Lord, and so even more so should God's people. As the stork does
not build a beautiful nest before it migrates, neither should God's people
just before their calling away.
- Heb.1:12 speaks
of the natural creation as a vesture which will be folded up and put away.
Job likewise speaks of the natural creation as " the outer fringes"
of God's garments. If God clothes Himself with them, they must to some
degree be connected with Him personally, rather than being irrelevant
to God's self revelation to man.
- Ps.69:34 speaks of
how everything in the sea, heavens and on earth should praise God.
This cannot refer to believers in all those places. Rev.5:13 uses similar
language to describe how every creature in the sea, under the earth and
on the earth and in Heaven, all praised God for Christ's ascension into
Heaven. The dead do not praise God. The impression is given that the whole
natural creation did in some way render praise to God.
- Job 35:11 says that
God teaches us more than He does the animals; as if He does
teach them to some degree. " Doth not even nature itself teach you..."
shows that Paul saw that the natural creation does have something
to teach us. For example, the physical state of the natural creation in
Israel reflects the state of God's people. Lev.18:25 says that because
" The land is defiled, therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof
upon it...the land vomiteth out the inhabitants" . Time and again,
the prophets dropped their words against the land of Israel (e.g.
Ez.7; Hos.1:2; Am.7:10; Mal.3:12; Hab.2:8; Ez.9:9; 14:13), seeing that
the land was so closely associated with the people. The physical joy to
come upon the land will therefore reflect the spiritual joy of the inhabitants;
showing that many of them will repent and accept the Gospel. It may even
be that there will be literal physical healing in some of the trees in
the land, to match the spiritual healing which will be present there too
(Ez.47:12). In the same way as the trees give their fruit monthly, so
it may be that we too give some special spiritual blessing to the people
under our jurisdiction on a similar regular basis. " From one new
moon to another (monthly?), and from one sabbath to another (weekly),
shall all flesh come to worship before me" (Is.66:23) surely refers
to the mortals presenting themselves before us, rather than going
to Jerusalem each week.
- " They (the animals)
shall not hurt nor destroy...for the earth shall be full of the
knowledge of the Lord" (Is.11:9) shows that the animals will somehow
be affected by the abundant knowledge of the Lord.
The Natural Creation In The Millennium
If the curse on the
whole creation is to be greatly reduced in the Millennium, we can look
forward to the spiritual aspect of the natural creation being greatly
developed. The following passages indicate how this will happen:
- Having described how
the wild animals would desolate Babylon, Is.35:1 goes on to speak about
how " The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for
them" , the mournful creatures who were once used by God to
mark the desolation of His enemies. There will be a sympathy between the
physical state of the wilderness and that of the animals; because of them,
the wilderness will blossom. Is.35:8,9 speaks of the way of holiness,
which would be free from the lion and " ravenous beast" , presumably
because the aggression of the animals in that area will be taken away.
" They shall not be found there" may imply that they
will be found in other areas of the earth, where the Kingdom conditions
have not yet spread to.
- Is.35:6,7 LXX implies
that there will be a channel of water flowing out from Jerusalem into
the deserts which subdivides into further channels. This language of flowing
recurs in Is.2:2-4, regarding the flowing of the nations to Jerusalem;
as if the spiritual state of the people, flowing to Jerusalem, will be
related to the flowing of physical water and blessings from God.
- " The beasts
of the field shall honour me...because" God gives water in
the desert to his people (Is.43:20). The thankfulness of the desert tribes
for these things will be based upon that of the natural creation. Seeing
that even in this life they ask God for their food and water, they will
rejoice the more when God gives them these things abundantly in the Millennium.
- Is.44:23 speaks of
the joy which there will be in the forests and trees " for the Lord
hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel" . The joy of
Israel's redemption will somehow be shared by the natural creation (cp.
note on Is.43:20 above).
- The impression is
often given that sitting under our own vine and fig tree will mean lazing
away the day, only needing to expend minimum effort on the natural creation.
However, Am.9:13 presents a picture of zealous agricultural work, with
the ploughman overtaking the reaper, working with a real enthusiasm. The
great physical blessings will therefore provoke hard, joyful work amongst
God's people of natural Israel. The emphasis on the production of wine
in this and other such prophecies, is surely to hint at the great zeal
which there will be for the work of Christ.
Deserts In The Millennium
Is.42:15 is in the context
of the Gospel being spread in the Millennium. But some mountains will
also be made waste, and " I will dry up their pools" , rather
than the wilderness becoming pools. This is the exact opposite of Is.41:18,
describing the blessings of the Millennium for those who accept the Gospel.
This indicates that the state of the natural creation will reflect the
spiritual response of people to the Gospel; if they reject it, then the
physical conditions will be the very opposite of what they will be in
the areas which accept the Gospel. " Where there were a thousand
vines...all around shall become briars and thorns" (Is.7:23,25) is
another example of this reversal of the planned blessings for those who
wilfully reject the Gospel. Seeing that satan will be bound, the
curse will be greatly reduced, and yet it will have been conditional
upon people's acceptance of the Gospel, we can conclude that the mortals
will generally accept the Gospel. Thus the mortal priests will not wear
linen garments, so that they will not sweat (Ez.44:18); this evidently
alludes to the curse of working in the sweat of our face. The decrease
in literal sweat is not necessarily automatic; it will come as a result
of obedience, in this case to the commands concerning clothing.
Joel 3:19, in a Kingdom
context, speaks of Egypt and
Edom as being a " desolate
wilderness" in the Millenium presumably because they refuse the Gospel.
Hence Zech.14:16 warns that if Egypt
do not keep the feast of Tabernacles, they will not have rain. In similar
vein God warned Seir (i.e. Edom?):
" When the whole earth rejoiceth (in the Millennium), I will make
thee desolate...I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities
shall not return" to prosperity, as other areas do in the Millennium
(Ez.35:14,9). Babylon will remain " a dry land, and an Arabah"
(Jer.50:12 Heb.). The Arabah or Negev of Israel will be changed (Is.35:1,2);
whilst Babylon will become like that once was. The curses upon Israel
are brought upon her unrepentant enemies, and the physical state of their
land will bear witness to that. Thus the physical abundances of the Kingdom
prophecies will not come upon these nations; although presumably most
other nations will respond.