millenium

1 Kings 18, Ezekiel 48

Today’s OT18 readings are 1 Kings 18 and Ezekiel 48.

This devotional is about Ezekiel 48:35b: "And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.”

This final chapter in the prophecy of Ezekiel described in detail the land God promised to a restored nation of Israel. The chapter reaffirms the land-based portion of the covenants God had made with his people. It states that the promise of land given to Abraham in Genesis 12:7b: “To your offspring I will give this land” will be fulfilled literally. The chapter promises again that the portions of land promised generally to the twelve tribes of Israel in Genesis 49 and more specifically in Joshua 13-19 would be given to those tribes.

There are good, godly men who believe that the promises God gave to Israel in his covenants have been fulfilled in us here in the church age. I do not agree with that interpretation and I don’t see how passages like this which are so specific could be fulfilled generally or “spiritually” in the church. The only alternative, then, is to believe that these promises have yet to be fulfilled and that they will be fulfilled in the time period we call the Millennium.

This is not the place to go into specifics about the Millennium or other prophecies in the Bible about the end times. The final verse of Ezekiel, however, sums up the great hope that all believers in every age have: “And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.” This is the realization of the promise lost in the Garden of Eden, that humanity will live under the loving rule of God, knowing him, worshipping, and fellowshipping with him constantly. When the Lord lives on earth among us, when his name is the name of the city because he is there, when we are free of our sin and shame and can worship him truthfully, fully, constantly and live completely for his purpose--then life will be everything it could be and should be but cannot be in this unredeemed state.

Is this a focus in your life? As you live each day, do you think about what it means to live for the glory of God? Do you think about Christ’s return ever and ask for him to come? Is there anyone around you today that you could speak to about their need for Christ and what Christ has done for them? This is how God wants us to live once we come to know him by faith. We live faithfully for him, obeying his word and trusting him while also longing for and looking for his return.

Judges 19, Jeremiah 33

Today we’re reading Judges 19 and Jeremiah 33.

This devotional is about Jeremiah 33.

Jeremiah 33:3 is one of the better known verses in Jeremiah’s prophecy. It is often assigned in Bible memory programs because of the compelling invitation to prayer it contains: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” This is a great verse on prayer, but like every verse in the Bible, it needs to be interpreted in context. When you read this verse alone, it sounds like a blank check from God. “Just pray and I’ll show you such delightful things that you never knew before.” But what are these “great and unsearchable things”? Before answering that question, Jeremiah reminded us of the situation he was living in. Verse 1 reminded us that he was still a political and religious prisoner in the palace. Verse 4 reminded us that severe judgment was coming to the city of Jerusalem: “They will be filled with the dead bodies of the people I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness.”

Yet God was not about to abandon his promise to Israel. After a period of defeat and exile, the people of Jerusalem would “enjoy abundant peace and security” (v. 6) as well as cleansing “from all the sin they have committed against men” (v. 8). There would be great worship in the city: “Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.” (v. 9). Though Jerusalem was about to deserted and demolished (v. 10), someday it would be a place of great happiness and joy and worship (vv. 11-12). All of this will happen when Jesus rules on earth over Israel in the period of time we call “the Millennium” (vv. 15-16). So God was calling, through Jeremiah, to his people urging them to pray for the spiritual restoration that would come through the work of Messiah. God wanted to bless his people so much! The joy he wanted them to experience was far beyond what they had ever known. But they needed to call out to him in repentance and call upon him in faith, asking him to make good on the promise. When Israel put their trust in the Lord that wholeheartedly, God would establish his kingdom just as he promised he would (vv. 19-26).

Part of God’s purpose in allowing Israel to live in this unbelief is so that Gentiles, like us, would be gathered into his kingdom as well. But, like Israel, we wait for God’s timing to be accomplished when this great joy will be realized. Until then, we should call on God, as Jesus taught us to do, saying “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven….” The prayer of Jeremiah 33:3, then, is not that God will do wondrous things in your life today as much as it is urging us to pray for God’s kingdom growth and Christ’s return so that we can experience the beautiful promises of peace, joy, and prosperity described in this passage.

Revelation 20

Today we’re reading Revelation 20.

This chapter is where we get the doctrine of the Millennium. The word “millennium” is Latin for “one thousand years,” the exact period of time that verse 2b says Satan will be bound. During this one thousand year period, those who were martyred during the Great Tribulation were resurrected (v. 4) and “reigned with Christ a thousand years” (vv. 4, 6).

No Christian likes the idea of being persecuted for Christ; being “beheaded” for him is a gruesome and terrifying concept. Yet, verse 6 says, “Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection” (which is the one described in verses 4-5). The reason they are blessed is that “the second death has no power over them.” Their faith in Christ stood the test of persecution and even martyrdom which demonstrated that it was genuine. Therefore, they are safe forever from the “second death” and, in fact, “will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”

In contrast to this resurrection, verses 11-15 describe the general resurrection of the rest of mankind (v. 13). These people did not reign with Christ; they were judged by him for how they lived during their time on this earth. (v. 13: “each person was judged according to what they had done”). But notice that the result of this judgment was not based on what they had done; rather, “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (v. 15). God will judge every sinner at the judgment of the dead and he will describe the reasons why they deserve to be in the lake of fire based on their works. But those who escape that judgment do not escape it because they had good works. Instead, those who escape the lake of fire did so because they were found in the book of life.

This is the gospel; this is the central truth of our faith. An impartial judgment of our works by a just God would ensure that every one of us would be a goner. But God, in his grace, chose some of us--not because of our works but simply because he is gracious. He wrote our names in his book of life so that we would escape this judgment. But, so that he would not be unjust for forgiving us, he sent Christ to pay the penalty for our sins.

If you’ve been reading these devotionals over the last year, it seems very likely to me that you’ve trusted Christ and are following him. But it is possible that you haven’t done that or that you found this page on our website through some other means. Do you understand that, on your own, you have no basis on which God should allow you into his presence after this life is over? You may be a very good person relative to many other people but compared to God, all of us are wicked, fallen, and completely deserving of eternity in a lake that burns with fire.

Do you understand that Christ came into the world to save sinners from this lake of fire? Have you come to God at some time in your life and put your faith fully and only in Jesus Christ? If not, please cry out to God for mercy and ask him to save you because of Jesus’ death on the cross for you.

If you have trusted Christ, remember that God has an incredible, eternal future waiting for you. Whatever problem you face in life today, whatever price you pay for following him will be forgotten when you serve him and reign with him forever. Take hope in that!

2 Chronicles 17, Revelation 6, Zechariah 2, John 5

Thanks for reading along with me this year. If you'd like to continue this practice in 2017, click here for details about NT17, my devotional plan for next year. You can sign up on that page; the mailing list you're on now will be discontinued on December 31 after the last 66 in 16 devotional goes out.

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 17, Revelation 6, Zechariah 2, John 5 Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Zechariah 2.

In this chapter Zechariah learned what life would be like in the future city of Jerusalem. In verse 1 he met a man who was on his way to measure Jerusalem but by verse 3 the man had been stopped by an angel because the city would be beyond measure. According to verse 4 it would be “a city without walls,” full of people and animals, guarded and illuminated by the Lord himself (v. 5). This describes Jerusalem as it will be during Christ’s earthly kingdom--the Millennium (v. 10). Although Israel, God’s covenant people, are gathered into this city (vv. 6-9), they are not the only ones who will enjoy this amazing life. “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you” (v. 11). This is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abram that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen 12:3b). This is why the gospel was for the Gentiles just as much as it was for the Jews. Our presence there in Jesus’ kingdom was part of God’s plan all along and it shows God’s love and grace to us regardless of who we are or where we came from. There is a bright future ahead for the human race but it will arrive through the fulfillment of Christ’s promises, not through technological breakthroughs, political planning, or military conquest. When the cares and problems of this life drag us down, a passage like this can return our gaze to God and his plan. Great things await those who trust in Jesus!

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

1 Chronicles 26–27, 2 Peter 1, Micah 4, Luke 13

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Chronicles 26–27, 2 Peter 1, Micah 4, Luke 13. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Micah 4.

Christians sometimes wonder what heaven will be like. It is not a great question, really, because heaven is not the final destination for believers in God--the New Earth is. Before the New Earth arrives, however, Jesus will establish his kingdom on this earth during the time period we call “The Millennium” (Rev 20).  Micah 4 describes what that will be like. Verse 1 told us this will happen “in the last days.” And what will those days be about? Worship. Instead of flocking to Walt Disney World, “the mountain of the Lord’s temple” will be the greatest place on earth—“the highest of the mountains... exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.” 

The attraction to the Lord’s temple will not be for Jewish people alone. Verse 2 said, “Many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob.’” These nations are those who survived the Great Tribulation. Some from them will believe in the Lord and will come to the temple to learn his word (v. 2). Others will be ruled by him (v. 3a) but in unbelief (verse 5a, Rev 20:7-9). 

Because the world will finally be ruled by it’s rightful Lord, there will be justice (v. 3a), peace (v. 3b-c), prosperity (v. 4a) and security (v. 4b). This will be the greatest thousand years the world has ever known but (after some final judgments of Satan and the dead, 20:7-15), this golden era will be replaced by an eternal kingdom where we will reign with Christ forever. This is what we are calling people to when we give them the gospel--to become followers of Jesus now and follow him right into his kingdom. This is what we are living for when we choose to invest our time and money in his work. This is what we long for whenever someone we love dies or when we experience suffering and pain in this life. Let this vision of a perfect life under the reign of king Jesus comfort you today; let it guide you in the decisions you make today and in days to come.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

Judges 19, Acts 23, Jeremiah 33, Psalms 3–4

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Judges 19, Acts 23, Jeremiah 33, Psalms 3–4. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Jeremiah 33.

Jeremiah 33:3 is one of the better known verses in Jeremiah’s prophecy. It is often assigned in Bible memory programs because of the compelling invitation to prayer it contains: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” This is a great verse on prayer, but like every verse in the Bible, it needs to be interpreted in context. When you read this verse alone, it sounds like a blank check from God. “Just pray and I’ll show you such delightful things that you never knew before.” But what are these “great and unsearchable things”? Before answering that question, Jeremiah reminded us of the situation he was living in. Verse 1 reminded us that he was still a political and religious prisoner in the palace. Verse 4 reminded us that severe judgment was coming to the city of Jerusalem: “They will be filled with the dead bodies of the people I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness.” 

Yet God was not about to abandon his promise to Israel. After a period of defeat and exile, the people of Jerusalem would “enjoy abundant peace and security” (v. 6) as well as cleansing “from all the sin they have committed against men” (v. 8). There would be great worship in the city: “Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.” (v. 9). Though Jerusalem was about to deserted and demolished (v. 10), someday it would be a place of great happiness and joy and worship (vv. 11-12). All of this will happen when Jesus rules on earth over Israel in the period of time we call “the Millennium” (vv. 15-16). So God was calling, through Jeremiah, to his people urging them to pray for the spiritual restoration that would come through the work of Messiah. God wanted to bless his people so much! The joy he wanted them to experience was far beyond what they had ever known. But they needed to call out to him in repentance and call upon him in faith, asking him to make good on the promise. When Israel put their trust in the Lord that wholeheartedly, God would establish his kingdom just as he promised he would (vv. 19-26). 

Part of God’s purpose in allowing Israel to live in this unbelief is so that Gentiles, like us, would be gathered into his kingdom as well. But, like Israel, we wait for God’s timing to be accomplished when this great joy will be realized. Until then, we should call on God, as Jesus taught us to do, saying “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven….” The prayer of Jeremiah 33:3, then, is not that God will do wondrous things in your life today as much as it is urging us to pray for God’s kingdom growth and Christ’s return so that we can experience the beautiful promises of peace, joy, and prosperity described in this passage.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.

Numbers 22, Psalms 62–63, Isaiah 11–12, James 5

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Numbers 22, Psalms 62–63, Isaiah 11–12, James 5. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Isaiah 11-12.

Isaiah 11-12 is a promising passage about the coming of Christ. Verses 1-2 tell us about his qualifications to rule God’s people being both from David’s line (v. 1: “from the stump of Jesse”) and having the kingly anointing of God’s spirit on him (v. 2). Verses 3-5 tell us about how he will administer justice in his kingdom. He will have insight into the truth of the situations he judges so he will not judge merely on appearances (v. 3) but he will be defender to the poor and needy when the rich and powerful seek to abuse them (v. 4). His dealings with the wicked will be severe (v. 4b) but righteous (v. 5). And what will be the result of his rule? Verses 6-9a describe a scene of supernatural peace, where natural enemies have no hostility toward or fear of each other. And the reason for all of this is described in verse 9b: “,,,for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” For the first time since creation, all will be right with the world. Everyone will know and love and serve God and will find in him the satisfaction that he created us to find in him. This is a compelling picture of the future and it is what God has promised to us in Christ. Rest and remind yourself of this as you deal with the troubles and difficulties of life. If we wait for the Lord and his coming kingdom, we will be rewarded with a society that is far beyond what we can possibly imagine.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.

Numbers 10, Psalms 46–47, Song of Songs 8, Hebrews 8

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Numbers 10, Psalms 46–47, Song of Songs 8, Hebrews 8. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Psalms 46-47.

The first of these two Psalms open with a confidence that surges like the ocean at high tide: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” I cannot read those words without feeling a deep sense of awe and a strong feeling of agreement. No matter what happens on earth, God is with us to provide us with protection and strength, so fear is unnecessary. As the Psalms develop, we see why the Psalmist has such confidence in God; it is because God is replacing the kingdoms of this world with his own: “Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’” (vv. 8-10). Christ began the fulfillment of this promise when he came the first time to teach us his gospel, to atone for our sins, and to rise again for our justification. He will complete the promise when he has subdued all his enemies and established his own city (v. 4). Unlike dictators and military conquerors, God’s rule and reign in Christ will be welcomed by his people. That is why Psalm 47 begins, “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth. He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet” (vv. 1-3) and again in verses 6-7: “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.” No celebration we’ve ever seen or even imagine will compare to the jubilant, joyous outcry of praise and worship to our Lord Jesus Christ in his kingdom. So, don’t fear the problems of this life; they’ll be over soon enough, never to be remembered again in Christ’s kingdom. Be encouraged that the Lord we love will faithfully keep his promise and bring us into his kingdom where we will worship him, joyously, forever. Let these thoughts sustain you today, keeping you from loving this world too much or encouraging you to keep serving the Lord despite the adversity you face.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.