Is Hell Eternal?
Or Will God's Plan Fail
By Charles Pridgeon
Chapter Seven: The Millennial Age
The Millennium is the next age after the present age. According to the Scriptures it is introduced by the Second Coming of our Lord. It is called the Millennium, which means a period of a thou- sand years, is spoken of as the time of Christ's reign and of that of his saints. There are, how- ever, other great events which may follow the thousand years which may properly be included in the same age. It is therefore probable that the Millennium may be considerably longer than the thousand years.
(Editor's note: There are many other schemes and systems which embrace universal salvation which do not hold to a millenial viewpoint nor a rapture of the saints. Charles Pridgeon merely represents one point of view. Eschatology is a tricky thing. I don't think any of us really have a solid hold on this subject even though some folks are quite adament about their system being correct.)
The Millennium is a time of far more supernatural manifestation than the present time. The nation of Israel will be signally blessed and will become the most important nation in the world. The religion of the world will center in Jerusalem. There will be the mysterious and glorious city which will come down out of heaven and will be accessible from the earth. Resurrected and glorified saints and celestial angels, as well as those in the flesh, will enjoy wondrous communion; Satan, and probably his coadjutors, will be imprisoned. The earth will be greatly transformed both as to its topography and characteristics. All this and more is foretold in the Scriptures of the prophets. To many Bible students the Millennium is regarded as the Golden Age, in which all the hopes of mankind as exprest in the Word of God and the best of Plato's Republic and More's Utopia, will have fulfilment. But there are other considerations that indicate that the Millennial age falls far short of perfection and, even tho Satan is bound, the natural heart of man is by no means changed:
I. There will be sin in the Millennium (Ps. 101).
II. Judgment on sin will be immediate as in the ease of Ananias and Sapphira. (Acts 5:5,10; Isa. 65:20; Ps. 101). Whole nations may have to suffer judgment (Isa. 60:12; Zech. 14:17-19; Ps. 2).
There will be death in the Millennium. This will make a great impression because human life will be greatly prolonged as in the antediluvian age. One may be considered but a child at a hundred years of age and if a man die and be only one hundred years of age, death will come as a curse upon him (Isa. 65:20).
III. When Satan is loosed at the end of the thousand years, he succeeds in deceiving the nations and leading them in a great revolt. The period denoted by the words "loosed a little season" (Rev. 20:3), may extend for many years, for God's little seasons often seem very long to us; as, in Heb. 10:37, "a little while" has been nineteen hundred years. This revolt is supernaturally and divinely subdued and Satan is cast into the lake of fire.
IV. Some time after this there looms the judgment of the "great white throne." This evidently covers a. period of time, possibly a long period. The wicked dead are judged and evidently the rest of the righteous, who need divine disposing, are judged (Rev. 20:15). God could render His judgments in a moment of time; but when He deals with His creatures, His days of judgment have to be long days, that they may really understand and learn His lessons. This judgment day is to end with the earth and the heavens having a baptism of fire; they are not annihilated, but dissolved and made anew into a "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2Pet. 3:12,13).
The whole Millennial period is characterized as "the day of the Lord" (2Pet. 3:10). This certainly implies a time of continuous judgment. The very name "Jehovah," which signifies the "I am that I am," or "I will be that I will be," shows God as acting consistently with His character and thereby requiring righteousness and demanding that justice be done. As Jehovah, He is the Lord of Sinai, the God of Law. His awfulness in righteousness and holiness terrifies. Even to the present day this name is not pronounced by the Jews. There is more than one word for "Lord" in the Scripture. This name in the Old Testament is written in capital and ''small capital'' letters as "Lord," when it translates the Hebrew yhwh. It can not always be distinguished in the New Testament.
It may aid us in understanding the Millennium and the New Heavens and the New Earth to notice a few passages in the Word. Gen. 1:2 might be translated, "And the earth became a ruin and an emptiness." God did not make it so. Isa. 45:18 tells us that God created it "not a ruin" (literal), using the very word of Gen. 1:2. When anything is a waste or a ruin there is also the natural implication that it was not always so. When we look at a ruined building we know it was not originally so. Something must have happened in God's universe that caused the waste and ruin. Evidently it was the fall of the angels or of some of His creatures. Adam’s mission was intended to compass the restoration of the earth. He was told to "replenish the earth and subdue it." Adam failed through sin. The second Adam had to complete what the first Adam failed to accomplish.
Notice the words in Gen. 9:1. A somewhat similar commission was given to Noah, "replenish the earth." He and his sons also signally failed.
God's purpose remained. He desired to bring back the heavens and the earth to what they were originally and probably even do more, but man failed again and again.
It is manifest that when God redeemed His people out of Egypt, He intended to establish His glorious kingdom and speedily bring in the New Heavens and the New Earth. The New Jerusalem, that is the place of the throne of God, was in touch with them just before their great trespass with the golden calf. In Ex. 24:9,10, we read, "Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness." God almost introduced the Millennium then. In the Millennium the New Jerusalem in its jewelled glory may be reached from Mount Sinai or from Mount Zion, which is to be greatly exalted.
Ezekiel among the captives in Babylonia saw the New Jerusalem just ready to come down if his nation would only repent and turn fully to God. God was ready even then to set up the millennial kingdom. Mark the words, "And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the color of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of His loins even upward and from the appearance of His loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face and I heard a voice of one that spake" (Ezek. 1:26-28). Israel was not ready to return to the Lord and to execute His commission to the world. When God opened the way for their return to their own land to fulfil their destiny in His promises, only a few availed themselves of the great opportunity.
When John the Baptist proclaimed the kingdom was at hand, he was declaring the same truth of the Millennial kingdom that God had desired established at the first. Our Lord Jesus' first preaching was in the same line, but how few became His true followers. Notwithstanding the national rejection of their Messiah in crucifixion and death, God still persisted. The Shepherd still sought the sheep. The Apostle Peter after Pentecost called to his nation and said; "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the month of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:19-21). Had Israel obeyed Peter's exhortation, Jesus would have returned and the millennial kingdom would have been set up that time was always "to the Jew first," but Israel has been stubborn of heart. Their national rejection was practically complete in Acts 28:25-28; this was followed by the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, a few years later. The nation has been scattered and in many instances persecuted till the present day.
The national rejection of Israel was not forever. God's purposes are without repentance; the day is fast approaching for the setting up of their millennial kingdom. The Apostle Paul speaks of it in many places. Rom. 11:25,26 is very clear, "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob."
The Apostle John, years later, foresaw the LORD'S Day and the millennial kingdom reaching to the time of the New Heavens and the New Earth. He was transported in the Spirit into the LORD'S Day (Rev. 1:10). All the prophecies of the LORD'S Day in the past are gathered together in the book of Revelation. How like Ezekiel's vision is Rev. 1 and grander than Ex. 24 is Rev. 21:10-27! Grander far than the deliverance out of the land of Egypt will be God's final deliverance of Israel. "Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, the Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands whither He had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers" (Jer. 16:14,15). This word awaits fulfilment. The book of Revelation tells of such time.
There are those who say that the Scripture which speaks of a Millennium can not have a literal fulfilment, because in reference to that period it was said, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Matt. 24:34). They say there was no literal fulfilment then and so there can not be now.
This verse (Matt. 24:34) is not the only verse of the New Testament that seemed to promise fulfilment in that day. We would call attention to the fact that the translation of that verse and parallel verses is not accurate in our English version. It should read; "Verily I say unto you, this generation may indeed not pass away, till all these things may be accomplished." It is a conditional sentence and there is a necessary condition which has to be first fulfilled before it will be accomplished; and that condition was not fulfilled then, but will be fulfilled in the future. That condition is the same one that the Apostle Peter referred to in Acts 3:19-21; viz., the repentance of Israel, or at least the repentance of a representative number of that nation. That promise will be fulfilled in the future and the mighty movements in and for Israel as a nation in our day presage a speedy fulfilment of all these things.
God's purpose will have no miscarriage: the millennial kingdom will be established on and over this earth. For Israel it will be a "golden age" and also for those who accept Israel's dominion and Israel's God. Of the other nations, many will give only an outward or feigned obedience. Note especially the marginal readings in Ps. 18:44; 66:3 and 81:15.
We have seen that the Millennium with all its glory is filled with judgment and with an iron rule (Ps. 2); and that notwithstanding its unspeakable blessings and Israel's preeminence, it is far from a perfect state. It can not be the final age. The final age must come with the New Heavens and the New Earth "wherein dwelleth righteousness."
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