Millennium is a word used to identify the thousand years in which Satan will be chained: the time when martyrs will reign on the earth before the second coming of Christ (Rev.20:1). We read on the sixth verse that those that take part on the first resurrection are blessed. This suggests the existence of a second resurrection for judgment (Rev.20:11-15). These texts make it clear that the redeemed will resurrect before the Millennium, and those that will be condemned will resurrect at the end. In between those two resurrections the saints will reign with Christ for a thousand years with a rod of iron (Rev.2:26-27; 12:5; 19:15).
Let us see what Jesus taught about his return. “He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprang up and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. And the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How does it have tares?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ And the slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “FIRST GATHER UP THE TARES AND BIND THEM IN BUNDLES TO BURN THEM UP; BUT GATHER THE WHEAT INTO MY BARN”’” (Matt.13:24-30).
If John the apostle was the author of Revelations, it seems that he had a different opinion from Jesus, for he states that the wicked will be reaped only a thousand years after the righteous, and Jesus explains that he will fist gather the wicked. The Greek commentaries mention many Church fathers of the initial four centuries who did not accept Revelations as canonical, maybe because of a few controversies. The truth is that, if the tares are gathered before the wheat, this puts an end to the quest of the millennialists, premillennialists and post-millenialists. When Jesus explained the parable of the wheat and the tares, he said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, AND THE HARVEST IS THE END OF THE AGE; and the reapers are angels. THEREFORE JUST AS THE TARES ARE GATHERED UP AND BURNED WITH THE FIRE, SO SHALL IT BE AT THE END OF THE AGE. The Son of Man will send forth his angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commits lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Him who has ears, let him hear” (Matt.13:37-43). Jesus is explaining that, when the end of the world comes, he gathers the evil ones first and throws them into hell, then the righteous enter the glory.
Paul agrees with Jesus. Let us see his teaching concerning the resurrection of the saints: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like athief in the night; While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then the destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child and they shall not escape. BUT YOU, BRETHREN, ARE NOT IN DARKNESS, THAT THE DAY SHOULD OVERTAKE YOU LIKE A THIEF” (1 Thess.4:16-17; 5:1-4). Paul explains here that, the moment the world is destroyed, the Church is taken in the resurrection of the saved. In the Second letter to the Thessalonians 1:7-10, the great apostle to the gentiles transmits the same idea.
Peter also agrees with Jesus and Paul. Let us read his teaching. “But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Pet.3:7). “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these thing are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, LOOKING FOR AND HASTENING THE COMING OF THE DAY OF GOD, ON ACCOUNT OF WHICH THE HEAVENS WILL BE DESTROYED BY BURNING, AND THE ELEMENTS WILL MELT WITH INTENSE HEAT!” (2 Pet.3:10-12).
According to the teaching of Paul, of Peter, and of Jesus, when it is time for the fire, the wicked do not go through the fire, but the saints do. It is the end of this contemptible world. There will not be seven years of the Anti-Christ, nor the rod of iron, nor the millennium with a kingdom of terror for the sinners.
In 1 Cor.3:11-15, we read: “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.”
The prophet Daniel, in chapter 3 of his book shows us a fantastic picture of the return of Christ in fire. Nebuchadnezzar built a stature of gold of about 24 meters high before which the people of all nations should kneel. Nebuchadnezzar is a picture of the devil, and the gold, of the riches that the devil gives. Everyone bowed down before the statue in the same way that today everyone bows before money, and therefore worship Satan. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, Daniel’s friends, did not kneel before the statue. This was a tremendous insult to the king, and therefore the fire was heated seven times over, and the three young men were tied up and thrown in the furnace. Nebuchadnezzar cried out in alarm, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire? […] Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the Gods!” These three young men symbolize the saved of the three races that peopled the earth: the Caucasian, the Mongolian and the Ethiopian.
The important attitude is to be prepared for the end of this world, and to go up with the saints, not to keep theologizing over theories of men.
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira