The Millennial Kingdom
August 8th, 1976 @ 10:50 AM
THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-8-76 10:50 a.m.
This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Millennial Kingdom, the Golden Age. In our preaching through the Book of Isaiah, we have come to the last and climactic chapters, chapters 65 and 66. The message today is an exposition of the last verses of chapter 65. I read them beginning at verse 17:
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
Be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people: and the voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his years: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed.
And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of My people, and Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; but they are the seed of the Lord, the blessed of God, and their offspring with them.
And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the Lord.
All of us are involved in the future. We are. We’re born into this world. Now, what do the days hold for us? And what do the days hold for our world? Will sin and death and the grave be our inheritance forever? Is that all we’ll look forward to, to fall into the grave? And what of the course of human history? Will it forever be, as the centuries past, a story of bloodshed, and war, and violence, and terror? And what of the future of this planet Earth? Will it go on in its course until finally it either falls into the sun and is burned up into a cinder, or will it finally be that the sun goes out and the earth eventually becomes a dead planet in eternal night and darkness?
What is the future of our own lives and of this world? Without exception, the prophecy of the Old Testament and the revelation of the New Testament is this: that there lies ahead for us and for our world a golden age, a millennial kingdom, when God’s will is done in earth as it is in heaven [Matthew 6:10], when the King Messiah sits upon His throne [Hebrews 2:8-9; Matthew 25:31-32] and rules in this earth [Revelation 12:5, 19:15], as now He rules over the angelic hosts in glory [Colossians 2:9-10]. Of that revelation, that promise of a millennial and golden kingdom that is to come, Isaiah writes more than any other prophet. And a part of that marvelous revelation have I read in the passage just now.
There are seven things in this revelation in Isaiah that describe the coming millennial kingdom, and we follow them one after another. First: it will be established in this earth not by the genius of men, but by the intervention of Almighty God. You look at these personal pronouns:
Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth . . .
Be ye glad and rejoice in that which I create: behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people . . .
It shall come to pass, I will answer before they call; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear . . .
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the Lord.
[Isaiah 65:17-19, 24-25]
Anyone sensitive to the Word of God could not but be sensitive to the emphatic use of those personal pronouns. It is a kingdom that shall be established, not by the might, or means, or ingenuity, or ableness, or gifts of men, but it is a kingdom that shall be established by the intervention of God from heaven, by the coming of the Lord [Isaiah 9:7].
When I grew up as a boy, it was the universal philosophy and theology that I heard, that we were going to bring in the kingdom by the preaching of the gospel. Finally, the tooth and the claw and the viciousness and sin of nature and men would be taken away through the preaching of the gospel of Christ. That doctrine is contrary to the Word of God. There is nothing in the Bible to give one that persuasion. And it certainly is contrary to the experience and the history of men. After two thousand years of gospel preaching, there are more unbelievers and infidels in the world this minute than there were two thousand years ago. There is more crime. There is more violence. There is more terror. There is more fear in the world today than there’s ever been.
That is according to the Word of the Lord. For in the second chapter of 2 Timothy and in the third chapter of 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul by inspiration says wicked men shall wax worse and worse [2 Timothy 2:16-17, 3:13]. Always there has been a faithful remnant, and God will not disappoint them [2 Peter 2:9]. The kingdom is coming, but not by the genius of man, but by the coming of the Lord and the intervention of Almighty God [Isaiah 9:7]. “I do it,” says the Lord. “It is My holy mountain,” says the Lord, and I create the world a joy and a rejoicing” [Isaiah 65:18].
Number two: the revelation says to us that the capital of the whole millennial world will be Jerusalem. In instances beyond number, in Amos, in Isaiah, in Ezekiel, in Jeremiah, in all of the prophets the people of the Lord are back in the land. God has gathered His chosen people home. And in that millennial day, Jerusalem will be the capital of the whole world. “I create Jerusalem a rejoicing. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people” [Isaiah 65:18-19]. If I could summarize the end time, the consummation of the age, briefly, I would do it like this: at the end time, there are three great movements at the consummation of the age.
Number one: there is an upward movement, a great upwardness. That includes the resurrection of the dead and the rapture of the church [1 Thessalonians 4:13-17]. When these who have fallen asleep in Christ, the Old Testament saints and the New Testament redeemed, when they are called forth at the sound of the trumpet and are raised in the glory of the likeness of Christ [1 Corinthians 15:51-52]—the resurrection of the dead and the rapture of the church, these are taken upward into the New Jerusalem, into heaven, the city of God [Revelation 21:2-5].
A second movement is downward. This is the perdition of those who reject Christ, who spurn His overtures of mercy, who do despite unto the Spirit of grace, and who tread under foot the blood of the covenant [Hebrews 10:29]. There is a downwardness of the great consummation of the age. God shall take out of His kingdom all that is offensive, all that is iniquitous, all that hurts and destroys.
There is a third great movement at the end of the age, and that is a forward movement. This is into the earthly, paradisiacal, millennial kingdom of God. These who are alive on the earth shall go through a great judgment. First, there is a judgment of Israel. This is meticulously outlined in the twentieth chapter of Ezekiel [Ezekiel 20:33-38]. And those who turn to God in repentance and faith among Israel will enter in forward into the millennial kingdom. There is a judgment for the Gentiles, and this is meticulously identified and characterized and delineated in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew [Matthew 25:31-46]. And these of the Gentiles who have accepted the Lord Christ as their Savior shall enter into the millennium [Matthew 25:31-40]. No one shall enter the millennium who is not saved. And the great onwardness of that movement in that day will encompass those who have looked in faith to our Lord Jesus Christ [Galatians 2:16].
And at that time the capital of the world will be Jerusalem [Psalm 2:6-9]. And the whole earth shall live in glory and in peace. Listen to Isaiah as he describes: “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains” [Isaiah 2:1-2]. And a mountain is a great nation and a hill is a little nation. Among the great nations of all this world, God’s throne will be established and
. . . shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. Many people shall come and say, Come, let us go up into the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us of His ways, we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many nations: they shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
The whole world will be one great united family in Christ. And the world will be covered with the knowledge of the Lord, and with peace and glory, with joy and happiness in the coming golden age [Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14].
Number three: there will be no more heard the voice of crying, nor the voice of weeping [Isaiah 65:19]. It is revealed to us in the last book of the Bible. Why that? because the source of our weeping and our crying and our sorrowing has been taken away. Satan is bound and cast into the bottomless pit [Revelation 20:2-3]. And there will be no more hurt, and no more heartache, and no more sorrow, and no more weeping, and no more crying [Revelation 21:4].
Last night, here for a wedding, as I walked to the car, the guard, the patrolman, met me, and he said, “I received a telephone call and I placed the number on the windshield of your car. It was a woman, and she seemed to be in great trouble.” I took the number, and when I drove home, I called. On the other line, on the other end of the line, there was a woman. And she said, “You do not know me. I do not belong to any church.” But she said, “For years, I’ve set the type for your “Pastor’s Pen” that you publish in the little church paper.”
She said, “It seemed to me, I grew to know you real well from the years of setting that type.” She added, “We have just been told by the doctor that my husband has a tragic and terminal illness. And I just thought, maybe you would pray for me and for him in our hour of sorrow and distress.” There’ll be no more of that. There’ll be no crying, and there’ll be no weeping. And there’ll be no distress and breaking of heart. And there’s a reason why. For the great prophet says in the next verse: “There will be life without sickness and without age.” Can you imagine that? “There shall be no more an infant of days”—a baby that dies—“nor an old man that hath not fulfilled his years” [Isaiah 65:20]. The child will be a child until it it is a hundred years old. And only then, if the soul rebels against God, would there be a cursing, a death. “But as the days of a tree are, so shall the days be of My people” [Isaiah 65:22]. Isn’t that an astonishing thing? There will be no sickness. Isaiah says in the thirty-third chapter: “There will be no inhabitant that says, ‘I am sick’” [Isaiah 33:24]. That’s an astonishing prophecy. No inhabitant shall say, “I am sick.”
Then the next chapter, 35, he says, “The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as the hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing” [Isaiah 35:5-6]. There will be nobody who is sick. And there’ll be nobody who grows old. The only one that will die in that millennial kingdom is one who, reaching the age of accountability at a hundred years, shall rebel against God.
“But as for My people, their days shall be as the days of a tree” [Isaiah 65:22]. In the beginning, God never meant for us to die. Death is an enemy. God says so [1 Corinthians 15:26]. Death is an interloper, an intruder. God never meant for us to die. And in the beginning, we continued somewhat of that marvelous provision for man. Adam lived nine hundred thirty years [Genesis 5:5]. Methuselah lived nine hundred sixty-nine years [Genesis 5:27]. Isn’t that a strange thing? God said, “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” [Genesis 2:17]. And that day, the spirit died, the soul died. And in the day of the Lord—and the day of the Lord is a thousand years, on God’s calendar, a day is a thousand years [2 Peter 3:8]—no man ever lived beyond that one day. In that day, he died—the physical frame. But the millennium is a thousand years. And we’ll never die. “As the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people” [Isaiah 65:22]. We’ll not grow old. And we’ll not die.
Next, there are no communists in heaven. Not one. “They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them [Isaiah 65:21]. They shall not labor in vain, for they are the seed of the Lord, and their offspring like them” [Isaiah 65:23], belonging to God. Now may I say it as Micah says it in chapter 4 verse 4? “Every man shall sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree; and there will be none to make them afraid” [Micah 4:4]. There will be no communists in heaven.
Whenever you find trouble in this world, look, and you will find underneath the Red hand of Russia. Is there trouble in Africa? Look, and you’ll find underneath the Red hand of Russia. Is there trouble in the Middle East? Look, and you’ll find the Red hand of Russia. Is there trouble in Indochina? Look, and you’ll find the Red hand of Russia. Is there trouble in Italy? Look, and you’ll find the Red hand of Russia. Is there trouble in the United Nations? Look, and you’ll find the Red hand of Russia. But in heaven, there’ll be no communists.
You see, communism takes away all that the people possess. Nobody owns his own house. Nobody owns his own farm. Nobody owns his own vine. Nobody owns his own fig tree. Nobody owns his own little shop. Nobody owns anything. But communism confiscates it all. And it’s held in the iron and oppressive hand of a bureaucracy hidden somewhere behind a high and frowning wall. You can’t move from here to there, unless they give you permission. You can’t change jobs, unless they give you permission. And you’re life is held in an iron vise, and you’re a slave all the days of your sorry, miserable existence.
There will be no communists in heaven, for we’ll all own our own little place. This will be our field, or this will be our little shop, or this will be my vine. And this will be my own fig tree. And this will be my own little piece of property. And I’ll live in it and inhabit it, and it will be fruitful, and there will be no poverty. And there’ll be no socializing of anything. We won’t have any food stamps. And we won’t be on largesse and doles from the government. But everything will be—we shall enjoy the fruit of our own labor.
Isn’t that a strange thing, for the caricature of the glory to come is a man seated on a cloud somewhere, with a halo over his head, with wings on his back, flopping on a harp forever? There is nothing in the Word of God to give us any such idea inane and insane like that. In the world that is to come, we shall be filled with intensest life! Man, there’s the whole universe to govern, and there’s the whole creation of God, systematized, that is going to be placed in our hands [Revelation 2:26-28]. We shall inherit it all [Matthew 5:5; Romans 8:32]. And there will be work to do, and it will be salubrious. It will be healthful. It will be glad. It will be fine.
I could not imagine a happy life that wasn’t a busy life—working with our hands, serving God all of our days. “Every man shall sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree. And he shall eat of the fruit of his hands, and none shall make them afraid” [Micah 4:4]. There’ll be no communists in heaven.
Next, there shall be the Edenic re-creation of this world. “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat” [Isaiah 65:25]. Let me comment on that. There will be a change in the animal world. God never intended for these animals to eat each other, to lie a prey and to stalk each other. God never had it in His mind that animals would be bloodthirsty and carnivorous. God made it beautiful and gentle, paradisiacal, Edenic. And it’s going to be that way again. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid… and the lion shall eat straw like an ox” [Isaiah 11:6-7]. Or as he says here in chapter 65, “Like the bullock” [Isaiah 65:25]. The whole animal world will be at peace; beautiful; quiet.
And the vegetable world will be re-created. Listen to the Word of the Lord: the reason the earth brings up briers and thorns and weeds is because it is cursed. God said when the man sinned, “The ground is cursed for your sake. Briers and thorns and thistles shall it bring forth. And in the sweat of your brow, and in your sorrow, shall you eat of it all the days of your life” [Genesis 3:17-19]. The Lord never intended that. He intended for the earth to be fruitful and beautiful, and in that Edenic world, Isaiah says, “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree” [Isaiah 55:13].
And in chapter 35 and the first verse, he says: “The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly” [Isaiah 35:1-2]. Ah, the world will look like a beautiful garden! Myrtle trees, flowering trees, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful blossoming vegetation everywhere, and so fertile; look. “And dust shall be the serpent’s meat” [Isaiah 65:25]. The harmless serpent, without fangs now, and without poison now—a creature meek and mild. The earth shall be so fertile, so fecund, so prolific, so rich, that the serpent finds its food, just eating on the ground—the whole world beautiful and prolific. “And there shall be none to make them afraid [Ezekiel 34:28]. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain” [Isaiah 65:25].
You won’t have to wonder if that’s a burglar at the door. And you won’t have to buy all of these systems to protect your house and your home. And you won’t live in dread and in fear. You’ll walk down the streets of the city, and in the dead of the night, be unafraid. There will be none to hurt [Isaiah 65:25]. There will be none to destroy, for the world will be beautiful, and fertile, and fecund, prolific, and quiet, and at peace. And none shall be afraid [Micah 4:4].
And one last: “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” [Isaiah 65:24]. Last, and the most beautiful of that millennial kingdom, will be the loving nearness and dearness of our great King, the Lord Christ Messiah.
I want to expound just for a minute on a passage of Scripture. You see, when the Lord came the first time, everybody was disappointed in Him. The Jews were disappointed in Him because they expected their Messiah to deliver them from the Roman yoke. The disciples were disappointed. One of them thought he’d sit on His right hand as prime minister, the other on His left hand as the Chancellor of the Exchequer [Mark 10:35-37], and all of the rest of them with prominent cabinet positions. They were looking forward to a glorious reign, and they in the midst of those with power and influence. When the road finally led up Golgotha, Mark says, “They all forsook Him, and fled” [Mark 14:50].
When He came the first time, seemingly everyone misunderstood and were disappointed. They didn’t understand that first atonement had to be made for our sins, for it is blood that washes sin away [1 John 1:7, Revelation 1:5, Hebrews 9:22]. But now, and here’s my passage, in the second chapter of the Book of Philippians, when Paul describes the descent of our Lord and His suffering on the cross [Philippians 2:5-8], then he says, “Wherefore, wherefore, therefore, because of, on account of, therefore, God hath greatly exalted Him, and given Him a name above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” [Philippians 2:9-11].
Can you imagine? A whole world loving Jesus, bowing in adoration, remembering, “He died for me [1 Corinthians 15:3]. I am here because of His blood, His sacrifice”; what a world, what a millennium, when they all bow, loving our Lord!
And now, the other side. Not only a world that loves Jesus, but a great King who is sensitive to our every need, “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” [Isaiah 65:24]; grace on top of grace; overflowing grace; grace for grace [John 1:16], flowing like streams in the desert from the throne of the great and marvelous King. “And before they even ask, I will answer, and before they call, I will hear” [Isaiah 65:24].
Think of that. “Lord, bless my boy,” and before you can say it, God heaps blessings on that boy. “Lord, bless my girl,” and before you can think it, God heaps blessings on that child. “Lord bless my house,” and before you can pray it, God has abounding blessings for your house. “Lord, and bless the work of my hands; my herds and my flocks and my fields and my business,” and before you can say it, God has filled your heart and your life with abounding blessings. Think of it. Think of it.
As I thought of it preparing this message today, I thought, “Could such a thing be? Could such a thing exist?” The marvelous mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, the golden age before us, and then I reminded myself: these miracles and these marvels are no greater than these we see wrought by the hand of God all around us. The stars in their courses, the beautiful and verdant earth [Genesis 1:1-19], our souls and our bodies, the miracle of it all, God did it [Genesis 1:26-27, 2:7]. The Lord did it, and the same great God that did it in the beginning, the marvel of this created world and we in it, is the same great God that will re-create it and restore it in its Edenic and pristine beauty. Is not that the way the Scriptures begin? “Look, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth” [Isaiah 65:17]; the golden age God has prepared for those who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].
We must sing our hymn of appeal, and as we sing that song, in the balcony round, a family you, a couple you, or just one somebody you, down one of these stairways: “And here I am, pastor.” The press of people on this lower floor, out of that pew, into the aisle and down to the front: “I give you my hand, pastor, I have given my heart to God.” Bring your family with you. “Pastor, my wife, my children, all of us are coming today,” or just you, as the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, answer now with your life. “Here I am, pastor. I am coming now. This is God’s great day for me, and I am on the way. When the Lord opens the book in glory, may it be that He writes my name there [Hebrews 12:23]. And when He calls the roll, I will be answering.” Do it now, make it now, come now, while we stand and while we sing.