What Happens when this Age Ends?
Some optimists maintain that man will resolve his global problems through technology and education. But after 6,000 years of steady human progression, the global scenario suddenly seems far less certain. Life as we have known it suddenly looks threatened as we see increasing demographic, climatic, environmental, financial, social and political instability. We are even aware of asteroid impact link!
So some ask ‘What will happen at the end of the world?’ Jesus’ disciples asked a similar question:
What will happen at the end of the age? (Mat 24.3)
According to common (futuristic) prophetic interpretation, the ‘end of the age’ and ‘the end of the world’ are actually separated in time by some 1,000 years. It is maintained that we are currently nearing the end of approximately 6,000 years of human government and the start of 1,000 years of peace on the earth – the so-called “Millennial Age” when Christ rules the earth. It is only after this that the end of the world, the physical destruction of the present earth, occurs.
The term ‘millennium’ (Latin for 1,000) does not appear in the Bible, but it is synonymous with the 1,000 period referred to six times in Revelation 20. So we shouldn’t ignore the concept, but what does it really mean? There are differing viewpoints. At Christ’s return some see the end of a millennial period on the earth and the start of a new heaven and a new earth (Postmillennialism). Others argue that the millennial period referred to in scripture is a symbolic description of the church age and that we are now in the Millennium (Amillennialism).
A third viewpoint sees Christ’s coming as the start of the Millennium and the ushering in of a very real and glorious state of this present earth (Premillennialism). This is the so-called thousand year reign of Christ over the earth – the Kingdom Age. The detailed prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah and Revelation support this viewpoint.
A Literal Interpretation: the Final 1000 years of this World
The incredible prophetic detail in books like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation points to a literal and future Millennial Age on this earth. Consider just two examples in Ezekiel 40-48. The future western border of Israel is ‘the Great Sea (the Mediterranean Sea)’, (Ezek 47.20). This must refer to a Millennial earth and not to the new earth since this has no sea (Rev 21.1).
For a second example, ‘living waters’ flow from the new temple and wherever they flow they give life. Half of the waters flow east towards the ‘eastern sea’ (Zech 14.8) and a glance at the map shows the latter to be the northern end of the Dead or Salt Sea (Ezek 47.8, Josh 3.16). The effect is to remove the salt and enable ‘very many fish’ to live there – enabling fishermen to work from Engedi (about half way down the sea shore) to Eneglaim, whilst the southern end of the sea is ‘left for salt’ (Ezek 47.8-11). Why such detail if it is purely symbolic?
Israel in the Millennial Age
Combining many prophecies paints a picture of life in the Millennial Age under the theocracy and monocracy of Christ the King.
Government from Jerusalem
As prophesied, the LORD will be King over all the earth, the government will rest on His shoulders and He will rule the nations with a ‘rod of iron’ from Jerusalem (Isa 9.6, Zech 14.9,17, Rev 2.27). This suggests a somewhat imperfect earth in that the nations sometimes need chastening. The good news is that the corrupt end-time world government will have been crushed and Christ’s kingdom will embrace the whole earth (Dan 2.35):
And the Lord will be King over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one (Zech 14.9)
A Magnificent New Temple
The prophet Micah looked toward the Millennial age when he said ‘the law goes out of Zion’ (Mic 4.2). In the Old Testament Zion came to mean Jerusalem, and the temple area in particular. This implies that Christ will rule from some future temple and it’s surrounding area. We find incredible detail of such a temple in Ezek 40-48 and Messianic Jews expect such a temple to be built in the near future. The whole area around Zion will reflect the glory of the LORD, and nations will stream to Jerusalem to worship:
I will make the place of my feet glorious … the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you (Isa 60.13,14)
The nations will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever more (Ezek 37.28)
Daily Life in the Millennium
Man will still have his daily work but prophecy suggests that work will be biased towards husbandry (farming, Isa 61.5, 65.21, Ezek 48.18,19, Amos 9.13,14) and hunting (fishing, Ezek 47.10, Isa 60.5) rather than industrial manufacturing. It seems that the world (and especially Israel) returns to a pre-industrialized society, to a society where individuals are more self-employed and relaxed (Isa 65.22)(Mic 4.4), to a rural rather than an urban way of life.