Sunday, I began a series looking at what the Bible says is heaven. There is more to is than just saying “if we’re redeemed we’re going to heaven.” Heaven is a term used synonymously for God. There is Paradise, where Jesus went between His death and resurrection (most likely). There’s the present heaven containing the redeemed souls. There will be a Millennium Kingdom. And then there will be the new heaven/eternity after the chapter of human history concludes. So let’s take a look at this wonderful, complex, eternal, real place called HEAVEN.
Previously I examined the terms “Abraham’s Bosom”, and Paradise. Today, let’s look at the Millennium Kingdom.
When we think of “heaven” we often think of the peaceable kingdom spoken of in Isaiah and depicted in Edward Hicks’ 62 versions of the Peaceable Kingdom paintings of the early 1830s.
Hicks’ series of images are based on Isaiah 11:6-8 and Isaiah 65:25. Here in the first line we see the correct part of the verse, commonly mis-spoken as “the lion shall lay down with the lamb”.
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
7Also the cow and the bear will graze,
Their young will lie down together,
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
9They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 65:25)
But even though all seems idyllic, this is not heaven. It is not even the new earth spoken of in 2 Peter 3:13.
Here is an overview of Bible history from the Days of His Flesh to future eternity. We are in the church age at present. These illustrations are from a pamphlet by Fred Overton Seminars. Click to enlarge.
The wolf shall lie down with the lamb during the Kingdom Age, which shall last for 1000 years. This is why it’s called “The Millennium Kingdom”, due to its prophesied length of time.
You see by the chart that we are in the Church Age. At some point, when the final elect soul will be redeemed, filling the quota Jesus has set for filling His church (Romans 11:25), we will be raptured. The trumpet will sound, and we who are living will fly upward and our bodies will be glorified instantly. The souls of the dead who died during the Church Age will also be resurrected and installed into a reconstituted glorified body and together we will meet Jesus in the air. It all hapens in the blink of an eye. This is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.
The Lord removes His Bride via the “catching up” because after that He will unleash His stored-up wrath onto an unbelieving world. The 7-year Tribulation will begin. The Bride is not appointed to wrath, so we are removed. (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10).
[Note to readers- I do not plan to debate the pretribulation rapture in the comments section. The pretribulation rapture is a biblical concept and can be learned of in many different studies here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for starters!)
Of the Tribulation, Jesus said it will be the worst time on earth human flesh has ever known. (Matthew 24:21-22). This should give one pause, because He already has sent a worldwide judgment in the form of the Flood to drown everything with the breath of life, including almost all of humanity (except for Noah’s family aboard the Ark.) So the Tribulation will be worse.
Yet for all the horror predicted to befall the unbelieving world, many people will be redeemed and come to faith in Jesus during this Great Tribulation. Many of those will not die during the judgments, and when Jesus returns in the Second Coming, they will enter alive into the Kingdom Jesus will set up for 1000 years.
During the Tribulation, massive earth changes occur. This is actually UNcreation, or a reversal back to the original state of the earth prior to the Fall of Man during Adam and Eve’s time. The Flood reshaped the earth’s form. (Psalm 104:6-9). During the Tribulation, Mountains are flattened, islands flee away (Revelation 6:12-14). Great earthquakes occur, sending the earth back to its original shape and form. Think of the Tribulation as a renovation of the earth, or a re-shaping.
During the Millennium Kingdom period, earth is renovated, but not perfected.
- Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. (Isaiah 40:4)
- The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground. (Ezekiel 38:20)
- The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. (Nahum 1:5)
- And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. (Revelation 16:20)
- Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified. (Isaiah 60:21)
- Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; (Isaiah 35:5-6)
- No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. (Isaiah 65:20)
- And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. (Ezekiel 34:26) [Source Overton Seminars]
Jesus personally rules and reigns on earth from His Temple! If you read Ezekiel 40-48, especially Ezekiel 43:1-9, it is a description of the restored Temple and life on earth with Jesus as the center of worship. The Milennium Kingdom is the fulfillment of all His promises to Israel. Their will Messiah ruling among them, their lands are given to them, their life revolves around Jesus, who they have since recognized as THE promised King.
The animals are peaceful, there is no curse to make them have the fear and dread of man as happened after the Fall. (Genesis 9:2).
|One of folk artist Edward Hicks’ 62 Peaceable Kingdom paintings
However, remember that when the Great Tribulation ended at His Second Coming, there were believers alive who entered the Kingdom? These people are mortal. They live long lives. They have babies and they live long lives. As the verse from Isaiah 65:20 says above, if such a one dies at age 100, they all say what a shame he died so young.
During this period, satan and his demons are bound in the abyss-jail. They are not present on earth to trouble mortal humans who are living in the Kingdom age and of course he is not bothering the us, the redeemed/glorified either. Jesus is ruling, David is reigning, people are living long lives, and there is no satan to bother them. How perfect!
Not so fast. The mortals born during the Kingdom Age will certainly enjoy peaceful Messianic rule, a non-cursed animal realm, and no temptations by satan or his demons- but they will still possess a sin nature. During the peaceful Milennium Kingdom, sin will be present. Hidden, but present.
At the end of the Milennium Age Satan is let out of the jail along with his demons. Satan quickly draws out the venomous sin that is in people, and believe it or not, they rebel against Jesus. It’s depressing to see how fast that satan can draw people to his side again, and not just a few either. All this is recorded in Revelation 20. Here is an excerpt.
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:7-10).
That is why the Milennium Age which occurs subsequent to the Great Tribulation and Second Coming is not “heaven”. It looks like it. It seems like it. But it isn’t. Sin is still present. Satan still has power to deceive. People still reject Jesus.
After the Millennial rebellion is put down, the Great White Throne Judgment occurs. This is when all the unredeemed dead of all ages are resurrected and judged according to their works. It’s the final dealing with sin. They are thrown into the Lake of Fire along with satan and his demons to begin their eternal punishment in their eternal bodies. Hell and Death are also thrown into the Lake of Fire too. The earth is melted in a fervent heat and completely remade. (2 Peter 3:10).
Remember, at the end of the Tribulation as the mortals entered the Millennium Kingdom, the earth still contained graves and bones. It still had death upon it. The Lord remakes earth completely new, and the heavens too. No taint of sin or death or hell will ever touch it again.
Tomorrow, the difference between the Present Heaven and the Future Heaven which is the Eternal State.
May these things encourage you and spark you to delve further into the wonderful promises of Jesus the Christ for His people!
Heaven part 1
Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspective Ministries
Talking to Your Children about Creation, Christ, and Heaven
Theological definition of heaven
Heaven: FALSE views of heaven
Sermon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Death and Heaven