The 1,000 Year Reign of Christ will follow the Battle of Armageddon, when the Dragon (Satan) will be locked in the Abyss, and the Beast (the antichrist) and the False Prophet will be thrown alive into the Lake of Fire. (To read more about the Battle of Armageddon, click here: The Battle of Armageddon)
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. Rev. 19:19-21
When the Beast and False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire, Satan will be locked in the Abyss.
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. Rev. 20:1-2
Despite the defeat of Satan, the Beast, and the False Prophet at the Battle of Armageddon, the events of the Last Days will not end with this war. Instead, the Battle of Armageddon will be followed by a thousand-year period when Christ will rule over the nations through His people. During the Reign of Christ, the devil will be bound in the Abyss and those who were beheaded by the Beast during the Great Tribulation, will be resurrected to reign with Christ as priests for a thousand years.
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. Rev. 20:4-6
In these verses, we learn that those who refused to take the Mark of the Beast will come to life in the First Resurrection to reign with Christ for a thousand years. Once the thousand years are ended, the rest of the dead will come to life, which refers to the rest of the dead in Christ. (Those who die without Christ will never come to life but will be resurrected to a second death.)
In addition to the Martyrs of the Great Tribulation, we also read of the 144,000 who will also be gathered to Mount Zion to reign with Christ. In the Scriptures, the 144,000 are described as a Faithful Remnant from the Twelve Tribes of Israel. (To read more about the 144,000, click here: Who are the 144,000 from all the Tribes of Israel?)
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. Rev. 14:1-3
As we will see in latter verses, whenever we read of the Lord on Mount Zion, we are reading about the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ. The vision of the 144,000 standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion is a clear picture of how a Faithful Remnant from among Israel, will live through the events preceding the reign of Christ and will be gathered to the Jerusalem to rule over the nations for a thousand years.
Those who will live through the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ will be: 1.) The resurrected Martyrs of the Great Tribulation, 2.) The 144,000 From All the Tribes of Israel, and 3.) The survivors from among the Inhabitants of the Earth whose populations will be greatly reduced as a result of the previous judgments of God.
The Purpose of the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ
Understanding the purpose behind the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ is a matter of understanding the purpose and history of Israel. In the Old Testament, we read how Israel was chosen from among all the peoples of the world to be a priestly nation. They were given the Covenant, the Prophets, and the Law, in order that they might instruct the nations about God. In turn, the nations were to come to Israel to be taught, and to the Temple, which was to be a house of prayer for all nations. Instead of fulfilling their priestly role to the world, Israel broke their covenant with God and became like the nations that surrounded them and followed them in their idolatry and sin. As a result, the people of Israel were defeated by their enemies and removed from their land. Despite their rebellion, God did not revoke His call and purpose for Israel. Instead, He made many promises concerning their future restoration and spoke of how He would gather a Faithful Remnant that would fulfill Israel’s original calling to the nations.
Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isa. 37:31-32
The 1,000 Year Reign of Christ will cause a pause in the final events of the Last Days, in-between the Battle of Armageddon and the Return of Christ, when the world will be judged, but this will be in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled that spoke of Israel’s restoration and eventual rule over the nations. Accordingly, following the Battle of Armageddon, the 144,000 From All the Tribes of Israel will be joined with the resurrected Martyrs of the Great Tribulation and, together, they will reign over the Inhabitants of the Earth for a thousand years as the true Israel of God.
The 1,000 Year Reign of Christ in the Old Testament
To better understand the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ, we must leave the Revelation in order to read what other Scriptures say about this event. In the Old Testament, we find many prophecies that describe this period, including the following passages.
This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord. Isa. 2:1-5
In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever. “In that day,” declares the Lord, “I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. Mic.4:1-7
The events that are recorded in the above passages have never taken place in history and are not a description of our present time. Instead, these passages are describing a future, literal event when Christ will reign for a thousand years through His people. A closer look at these two prophecies reveals the following five themes that describe this period. Whenever we read of these five themes in the Scriptures, we are reading about the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ.
The Five Themes of the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ
1. Mount Zion is Exalted.
2. The Remnant of Israel is gathered from the nations.
3. The Kingdom is restored to Israel.
4. The nations come to Mount Zion to worship God and to be taught.
5. Jesus Christ rules over the nations.
1. Mount Zion is Exalted
One of the most repeated themes of the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ is that Mount Zion will be exalted. Verses that contain a description of Mount Zion being exalted, and the Lord ruling from the Holy Mountain, are verses that are describing the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ.
The moon will be dismayed, the sun ashamed; For the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders—with great glory. Isa. 24:23
When Mount Zion is exalted above all other mountains, it will serve as the majestic point from which the Lord will rule the nations.
“For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord, there in the land all the people of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them.” Ezek. 20:40
This is what the Lord says: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.” Zech. 8:3
It is during the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ that Jerusalem will fulfill her role as the Faithful City where the nations will go to be taught, and Mount Zion will be called the Holy Mountain.
2. The Remnant of Israel is Gathered from the Nations
Another common theme of the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ is the gathering of the elect to Israel. Following the Battle of Armageddon, a trumpet will sound and a banner will be raised that will signal to the exiles to return to Jerusalem.
“All you people of the world, you who live on the earth, when a banner is raised on the mountains, you will see it, and when a trumpet sounds, you will hear it.” Isa. 18:3
He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. Isa. 11:12
The return of the exiles will be facilitated by the survivors from the Inhabitants of the Earth who will tremble in fear of the Lord, and who will carry the sons and daughters of Israel to their own land.
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I will beckon to the nations, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their hips. Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isa. 49:22-23
“And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels.” Isa. 66:20
Following the Battle of Armageddon, the Inhabitants of the Earth will seek out the Hidden Remnant and will bring them to Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord. During the gathering of the elect, not all the Israelites who attempt to return to Jerusalem will be allowed to enter Zion. Instead, the Remnant that returns to Jerusalem will be judged, just as the children of Israel were judged, during the Exodus, before they entered the Promised Land. At that time, all those who had rebelled against the Lord died in the wilderness and were not allowed to enter into the land. In the same way, the rebellious from amongst the survivors will be purged from the Faithful Remnant and will not be allowed to enter into the land of Israel.
“I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered—with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. I will bring you into the wilderness of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you. As I judged your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezek. 20:34-38
When Israel is gathered to Mount Zion, God will remove those who revolted and rebelled against Him, leaving only the Faithful Remnant numbering 144,000 From All the Tribes of Israel.
3. The Kingdom is Restored to Israel
The gathering of the Faithful Remnant to Mount Zion and the purging of the ungodly from Israel will bring about the Restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. The Restoration of the Kingdom to Israel will be a literal event when the nations will be subject to the people of God.
The Lord will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Foreigners will join them and unite with the descendants of Jacob. Nations will take them and bring them to their own place. And Israel will take possession of the nations and make them male and female servants in the Lord’s land. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors. Isa.14:1-2
The Restoration of the Kingdom to Israel is something that the disciples and the people living in Jerusalem thought Christ was going to bring about at His First Coming. When Jesus entered Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, the residents of that city came running to greet Jesus with palm branches and with shouts of, “Blessed is the King of Israel.” All of Israel was familiar with Scriptures that spoke of the ascendency of their nation (For example: See Isaiah 9:1-7, 11:1-16), and the crowds believed that Jesus, as a physical descendant of King David, was coming to defeat the Romans and to bring about this event. After the death of Christ, all hopes of the Restoration of the Kingdom to Israel were brutally ended only to be revived once again by His resurrection. Following His resurrection, the first thing the Apostles questioned the Lord about was the Restoration of the Kingdom of Israel.
Then (after the Resurrection) they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” Acts 1:6-7
When the Apostles questioned Jesus about the Restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, they were not speaking of the church as a “type” of Israel, as the church had not yet come into being. Instead, they were referring to the literal and physical kingdom of Israel that would reign over the nations as it once had under the reigns of King David and King Solomon. This was the only kingdom of Israel that the Apostles were familiar with and the only type of kingdom that they would have been referring to. In His answer, Jesus confirmed the Apostle’s understanding of the Restoration of the Kingdom to Israel but told them it was not for them to know the date when it would start. A description of how the nations will be subject to the restored nation of Israel can be seen in the following prophecy of Isaiah.
“Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you. Though in anger I struck you, in favor I will show you compassion. Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that people may bring you the wealth of the nations— their kings led in triumphal procession. For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined.” Isa. 60:10-14
The future Restoration of the Kingdom to Israel will also bring about the reuniting of the Twelve Tribes of Israel that were divided in the civil war that followed the reign of King Solomon. At that time, the Ten Tribes of Israel split from the Two Tribes of Judea, and a permanent divide was created in the nation. During the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ, the Twelve Tribes will be reunited and Israel will once again become one nation.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.” Ezek. 37:21-22
It is during the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ that the prophecies concerning the reuniting of the Twelve Tribes of Israel will be fulfilled. It is also during the Restoration of the Kingdom to Israel that foreigners will be physically joined to Israel, including the resurrected Martyrs of the Great Tribulation who will reign as priests. The joining of the Martyrs of the Great Tribulation with the Faithful Remnant of Israel will fulfill the prophecies that speak of how believing Gentiles will be united with the physical descendants of Jacob.
The Lord will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Foreigners will join them and unite with the descendants of Jacob. Isa. 14:1
4. Foreigners will come to Jerusalem to be taught
Once the Reign of Christ is established on Mount Zion and the Kingdom is Restored to Israel, the nations of the world will come to Jerusalem to be taught and to worship the Lord. These worshipers will consist of the survivors from the nations whose armies were defeated by the Lord at the Battle of Armageddon and who will live in fear of God and Israel. These remaining Inhabitants of the Earth will come to Zion to worship the King to avoid being punished with the plagues that He will inflict on the nations that do not go up to Jerusalem.
The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name… Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. Zech. 14:9, 16-18
5. Jesus Christ Will Rule over the Nations
All of the preceding aspects of the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ will be a function of the Rule of Christ. The Rule of Christ that will exist throughout this period will be a rule of iron. Whenever the Scriptures refer to Christ as ruling over the nations with a rod of iron, they are describing the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ.
She (Israel) gave birth to a son (Jesus), a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. Rev. 12:5
Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” Rev. 19:15
The rule of iron that will exist during the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ will bring about the destruction of any person or nation that rebels against the Son.
“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” Ps. 2:6-9
The Glory of the Lord
During the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ, the Lord will not rule in bodily form over Mount Zion but will appear in His glory. The Glory of the Lord describes those times when the Lord’s presence is revealed through ominous signs, such as dark clouds, thunder, and lightning that inspires awe among those who see it. Examples of how the Glory of the Lord will appear to those on earth, during the 1,000 Year of Christ, can be seen in how the Glory of God appeared over the mountain and the Tabernacle during the time of Moses. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire.
The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. Exod. 19:18 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Exod. 24:17
Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Exod. 40:35
Once the Faithful Remnant is gathered to Jerusalem, the Glory of the Lord will remain over Mount Zion in the form of a cloud by day and a fire by night.
In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. Isa. 4:2-5
In these verses, the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ is identified by how the Lord will preside over Mount Zion and by how the Israelites are described as survivors who have been made holy. In these verses, we read that the Glory of the Lord will form a canopy over Mount Zion in the form of a cloud of smoke by day and a flaming fire by night, just as the Glory of God hovered over Israel when they first entered the Promised Land.
The Nations Rebel
During the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ, the gates of Israel will always stand open and the survivors from the nations whose armies were defeated at the Battle of Armageddon will come on a yearly basis to Mount Zion to celebrate the festivals and to worship the Lord. During this period, the children of Israel will not depend on an army or great walls for their protection but will trust in God. Over time, the Inhabitants of the Earth will increase in number and their feigned respect for God and His people will turn to resentment against Christ and Israel. The fear that the nations had for the Lord will turn to hatred and they will conspire to break their chains and throw off the Rule of Christ. The rebellion among the nations will be met with laughter from the Lord who will establish his king on Mount Zion.
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” Ps. 2:1-6
From the Apostle Peter, we learn that the passing of the thousand-year period will cause the Inhabitants of the Earth to deliberately forget how God once destroyed the world by water, and they will scoff at the idea that such an event could happen again, or that the Return of Christ will take place as promised. To the Lord, these same events will pass like a day, and He will use the thousand-year period to reward the Martyrs of the Great Tribulation and to allow Israel to fulfill their calling to the nations.
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Pet. 3:3-9
In addition to the growing rebellion taking place among the nations, when the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from the Abyss and will deceive the nations from the four corners of the earth, who are described as Gog and Magog, into attacking Israel. This event takes us back to the narrative of the Revelation, which describes Satan’s final attempt to destroy God’s people.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Rev. 20:7-10
In these verses, we learn that the Battle of Gog and Magog will be a separate war from the Battle of Armageddon as can be seen by how this battle will take place when the thousand years are over, and by how we read that the devil will be thrown into the Lake of Burning Sulfur where the Beast and the False Prophet had been thrown.
Following the final defeat of God’s enemies, at the end of the thousand years, the rest of the dead who did not come to life in the First Resurrection will be resurrected, along with the unrighteous dead, and together they will be brought to the Throne of God on the Day of Judgment.
To read more about the events of the Last Days and the order in which they will occur, click here: The Order of Events of the Last Days)