Series: “Christ’s Kingdom” (post #6, last one)
First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will be scoffers who will laugh at the truth and do every evil thing they desire. This will be their argument: “Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then where is he? Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly the same since the world was first created.” (2 Peter 3:3-4, New Living Translation)
Picture a large group of Christ’s followers, 120 or so (Acts 1:15), standing upon the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem. It has been forty days since Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:1-3) and Jesus, in His resurrected/glorified body, is making one final appearance to them in the moments just before He ascends back to heaven. With the exception of John, who will see Jesus one more time as part of his Revelation experience (Revelation 1:9-16), none of these people will ever see Jesus again until they get to heaven.
As part of this last-minute conversation, Jesus tells the group to remain in Jerusalem until they are baptized with the Holy Spirit. He promises that this baptism will happen very soon (Acts 1:4-5). Then they ask Him if He is on the verge of fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah establishing a glorious kingdom age for Israel. In response, He tells them that only God the Father knows when that will take place (Acts 1:6-7). Lastly, He tells them that after they have been empowered by being baptized with the Holy Spirit, they will be His witnesses to the whole world (Acts 1:8).
Following these words, Jesus is taken up into the sky and disappears into a cloud (Acts 1:9). So there the group stands, gazing up at the sky in wide-eyed wonder, when suddenly two men (presumably angels) in white garments appear in their presence and say, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11, N.K.J.V.).
We know from the New Testament writings that the people of that group never forgot that promise. For example, the apostle John was in that group, and he would later write: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye shall see Him…” (Revelation 1:7, N.K.J.V.). Likewise, the apostle Peter, in our text verse, rebuked any and all naysayers who questioned the promise that Jesus would return to this earth again.
You see, the Bible is crystal clear that Jesus must return to planet earth at some point. Scripture leaves no ambiguity about this. If Jesus doesn’t return to this earth, He is a liar and the Bible is false. There’s no other way of understanding the situation.
I’m mentioning all this because what you need to know is that in concert with Christ’s Second Coming will be the establishing of His kingdom on this earth. In the previous post from this series, I explained that Jesus is slated to rule upon the earth for 1,000 years. What a millennium that will be! If you want to learn more about all the details of that age, please read my post What Will Life Be Like in Christ’s Millennial Reign? However, I won’t rehash that boatload of information here because I want to finish up this series by explaining what becomes of Christ’s kingdom following His millennial reign.
At the conclusion of Christ’s thousand-year reign, Satan and all the other fallen angels will be released from their imprisonment in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:7). They will have been imprisoned in there for the duration of the millennial reign. Upon his release, Satan will immediately start causing worldwide trouble again.
As usual, he will head out to deceive the inhabitants of the earth, and as usual he will be wildly successful in doing so (Revelation 20:8). But who will his deception victims be this go around? Well, if you understand the millennial reign correctly, you know that there is only one possible group of candidates. These people will be the offspring of the saved believers who lived all the way through the tribulation period and entered into the kingdom age in their earthly bodies.
As I pointed out in the previous post, at the beginning of Christ’s kingdom age a great dividing will take place among the world’s living population. Those who will have taken the mark of the Antichrist during the tribulation period — and in so doing will have assured their eternal damnation — will be put to death. In this way, their presence will be removed from the kingdom age and their souls will be banished to hell.
On the other hand, those who will have become saved believers during the tribulation period will be welcomed into Christ’s kingdom on earth. They will even be healed of their infirmities and granted the luxury of being able to live to extended ages during the millennium. They will rebuild the ruins from the tribulation period, build new houses, plant vineyards, and produce children (lots of children).
The fact is, though, that these tribulation-period survivors will have bodies that will still bear the curse of Adamic sin. This will ensure that each of them will at some point die over the course of the 1,000 years. Presumably, at the moment of death, each body will be resurrected and glorified to match the glorified bodies of all the other “kingdom citizen” believers from all the other eras of human history. This will leave only their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, etc. in earthly bodies that still have the nature of sin coursing through them.
This is why we say that these “kingdom kids” (that’s my term for them) will be Satan’s last victims of deception as he will convince millions of them to side with him in one final revolt against Jesus. How many of these “kingdom kids” will choose to side with Satan? John describes their number as being “as the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:8). You see, just as Adam and Eve chose sin while living in a perfect world, these “kingdom kids” will choose sin after spending their entire lives living under Christ’s reign on earth.
Satan will then march his new army of followers to Jerusalem, where Jesus will have been ruling for the duration of His millennial reign. Satan and his millions of new followers will surround the city completely in a type of siege maneuver, and it will look like yet another great battle will be about to occur in Jerusalem. But then suddenly, without warning, God the Father will send fire down from heaven, and the fire will devour Satan’s entire army (Revelation 20:9). Satan and all of the other fallen angels will then be cast into the eternal lake of fire (Gehenna, in the Greek language), where the Antichrist and the false prophet will have spent the previous 1,000 years, having been cast in there following the Battle of Armageddon that ended the tribulation period (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41).
At this point the only unfinished business left regarding all of history’s lost people will be their joining Satan, the other fallen angels, the Antichrist, and the false prophet in the eternal lake of fire (Gehenna). Jesus will take care of that unfinished business at The Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). For this judgment, the body of every lost person who ever lived will be resurrected from wherever it lies. Jesus referred to this type of resurrection — not one to glorification — as “the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:29). Also, the lost soul that inhabited that body will be called forth from hell (Hades, in the Greek language) as the resurrected body and the eternally damned soul are reunited to stand before Jesus and be formally sentenced to spend eternity in the eternal lake of fire (Gehenna).
Now let’s get back to the subject of Christ’s kingdom. Following The Great White Throne Judgment, God will institute a new earth, a new heaven, and a new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1). I tend to side with those prophecy experts who believe that this “new” earth will actually be this current earth cleansed and purged by fire, but there are many students of the Bible who contend that this current earth will be completely obliterated and a thoroughly brand new one created. Whichever interpretation is correct, what we can say with certainty is that this current earth will pass away “by fire” (2 Peter 3:10-11) and there won’t be any sea in the new one (Revelation 21:1)
As for the New Jerusalem, that will without doubt be a whole new deal. This city will come down out of heaven and become the eternal home of all of history’s saved people. The Bible devotes its closing two chapters to the description of this city, and if you are a Christian you should study those chapters well. After all, that city is going to be your home forever.
But how does Christ’s kingdom fit into the New Jerusalem? The answer is simple: Christ’s kingdom will be eternally merged into the New Jerusalem. This will be the ultimate fulfillment of the angel Gabriel’s words to the virgin Mary concerning Jesus. Those words were:
“And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:33, N,K.J.V.)
It will also be the ultimate fulfillment of a prophecy that Daniel once gave when he wrote:
…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. (Daniel 2:44, N.K.J.V.)
And so now let’s bring this post and this series to a close by summing up the basics about Christ’s kingdom. Here’s the list and I offer it as my closing thoughts on this whole subject. Ready? Here goes:
- Jesus has a kingdom.
- Right now His kingdom is a heavenly one, not an earthly one.
- Satan currently has a kingdom, too. It’s a world system that he has established within the confines of God’s planet earth.
- To become a member of Satan’s kingdom, all a person has to do is be born.
- To become a member of Christ’s kingdom, all a person has to do is believe in Jesus as Savior. By doing this, the person’s citizenship is transferred from Satan’s kingdom to Christ’s kingdom.
- When Jesus walked this earth, He brought a touch of His kingdom to everywhere He went and everything He did.
- Now that Jesus is no longer walking the earth, He expects His followers (Christians, citizens of His kingdom) to bring a touch of His kingdom to every place we go and everything we do. One of the surest ways we can do this is to live according to the principles set forth in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
- At the close of the seven-year tribulation period that is prophesied to come upon the earth, Jesus will return to walk this earth again. At that time He will establish His kingdom on the earth and reign from Jerusalem for the 1,000 years of His millennial reign (kingdom age).
- At the completion of Christ’s millennial reign, Satan will mount one last offensive against Jesus in an attempt to reestablish his kingdom upon the earth. However, God the Father will easily put down Satan’s offensive.
- Following Satan’s last offensive and the subsequent Great White Throne Judgment that immediately follows it, Christ’s earthly kingdom will merged into the eternal era of the new earth, the new heaven, and the city of New Jerusalem.