Will there truly be no death and disappointment in the Millennium?
This Feast of Tabernacles, I heard someone say something truly profound. Perhaps you won’t think it so. After all, it is in a very real sense pretty obvious. As a youth in WCG in the seventies, I heard a lot of speculation, and many times that speculation peaked during the fall holy day season.
The profound statement was that there would be healing during the Millennium, but we don’t know exactly how God will deal with death. It was common during the seventies for ministers and lay people alike speculate that sinners would simply disappear rather than some form of capital punishment. Of course, no biblical verses could backup this speculation directly, although there might be hints here and there that death and danger could be unknown. Still, it always seemed to me to be more of an attempt to assist God (after all, He really needs our help, right?) and sanitize His entire plan.
The older I get, the more I believe that in spite of the wonderful things that will occur after Christ’s return, part of the plan of God will still involve death and disappointment in the Millennium.
Now, I cannot in reality point to specific verses to prove this, but I believe the verses and logic built upon them outweigh the attempt to sanitize God’s actions.
Not Hurt Nor Destroy In All the Earth?
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.
~ Isa 65:25
The above is the closest we can come to saying that death and destruction will not occur in the Millennium. However, there are several problems with that interpretation. Many of these we will discuss later, but the most obvious is that it specifically mentions “in My holy mountain”, which means Mount Zion, the earth headquarters that will be established when Christ returns.
It does not say “in all the earth”.
Sacrifices in Millennium
There are several passages that show that animal sacrifices will be re-instituted in the Millennium. However, the most obvious are in Ezekiel 43 – 46, where detailed instructions about sacrifices of the future are given. So, to say there is no death in the Millennium is obviously not true, since at the very least animals will die.
Furthermore, in order for animals to not die in the Millennium, human beings themselves would have to become vegetarian. I don’t read this in the Bible at all.
It Is Appointed to Die Once
Some believe that Adam would have died whether or not he ate of the Tree of Life. Frankly, I disagree. It is clear that death is the penalty for his sin, not the natural result of decay in a perfect environment, which would be a contradiction.
Yet, once he left the protective hand of the Creator and was kicked out of Eden, all of humanity came under a curse, and that curse is death and decay.
27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
~ Heb 9:27
This famous verse is quoted by TV evangelists all the time, and even they understand that human beings will all eventually die. The Bible only makes a small exception for believers who are alive at Christ’s return. There is no indication that there will be further exceptions after that one-time special event.
We recognize that physical human beings die. Adam and Eve proved that unless the consequences of sin are experiences first-hand, the tendency is to dismiss those consequences without really thinking about them.
The first resurrection will seal the fate of the saints with eternal life. The second resurrection will occur to allow those who have already experienced death to learn how to avoid it again via the second death.
Law and the Death Penalty
One of the lessons that must be learned is obedience to God’s Law. However, God’s Law comes with consequences for breaking it. If we believe that somehow people will mysteriously learn to not break God’s Law by not experiencing the consequences, then we are engaging in magical thinking.
Several laws involve the death penalty. Chief of those is murder. Do we really believe that hatred will not exist ever in the Millennium? Do we really believe that as the population once again climbs that, in billions of people, no one will experience hatred and anger to the point where they will not kill another?
Again, magical thinking.
Example of Death
Most in the COG recognize that Ezekiel 38 – 39 take place during the Millennium. Most worldly churches confuse it with the event after the Millennium prophesied in Revelation 20. However, the latter timeline makes no sense, and the fact that this occurs just before God calls Jacob’s descendants out of the pagan nations of the earth tells us this is at the beginning of Christ’s reign.
This proves that not only does death exist, but the death penalty does as well.
Disappointment in the Millennium
We are not just talking about death, but we are talking about death and disappointment in the Millennium. Will disappointment occur in the Millennium? You bet!
Again, I point to the Gog and Magog example. They are obviously driven by greed for possessions and power. They are disappointed, and they drive this disappointment into a lust that destroys them. They are the number one example of death and disappointment in the Millennium.
Consider as well Adam and Eve. They lived in a perfect environment. What more could they have really needed? What needs were not met? It should be obvious that it was not enough. Satan planted dissatisfaction and disappointment in Eve’s mind. Sin was the result, and death was the result of sin. There was death and disappointment in the Garden of Eden, and there will be death and disappointment in the Millennium.
Speaking of Satan, he was created perfect. He was given a power over a third of the angels. He was given the biggest responsibility ever known up to that point in time: Prepare the earth for the children of God. Obviously, he was not satisfied in this role. Most likely, he was jealous that puny human beings could become sons of the Most High. There was disappointment even in that environment, and much of what the fossil record shows is death and decay in the world he was supposed to care for. There was death and disappointment even before man stepped foot in Eden. There will be death and disappointment in the Millennium.
The real question should be not whether or not fickle human beings will be disappointed. The real question should be whether or not it is justified. Disappointment can be justified or unjustified. Eve’s disappointment was unjustified. Satan’s disappointment was unjustified. Gog and Magog’s disappointment will be unjustified.
There will exist death and disappointment in the Millennium, but the disappointment that leads to death will be mostly unjustified.
The Real World Invades
One other thing makes it obvious that there will be death and disappointment in the Millennium, at least to me. The Feast of Tabernacles is a type of the Millennium. We study, have fun, fellowship, eat and drink and engage in various forms of positive behavior. However, that does not stop the “real world” from invading.
The fall holy days picture a time of healing. However, I have suffered disappointment after disappointment by having my second surgery first postponed and then cancelled until I see my primary care physician. In fact, the cancellation was via a voicemail that I received while at services on the very first day.
Not only that, but going to the Feast does not stop people from dying. Today, my sister was found dead in her apartment. In many ways, it was not a surprise. In fact, it happened exactly how I predicted it would occur, simply because her behavior often worked contrary to her own health. That does not take the sting away, though. Still, going to the Feast does not protect one from death.
Going to the Feast does not guaranty that all will go well. Certainly, God will often bend events to the benefit of the faithful, but then again He does not always protect the saints from persecution, tribulation and even death.
People have freewill. People will make choices, both good and bad, and they will experience the consequences both good and bad. Will God change this scenario after 6,000 years? Does it make sense that He would? The examples of Gog and Magog prove that Christ will institute painful justice upon those who go too far.
And, 1,000 years is a very long time to live. Even Adam died short of 1,000 years. Prophecy indicates that the elderly will watch the very young play in the streets, but it does not indicate that people will never die of old age. Like the pre-Flood times, it may well be that 1,000 years is the upper unattainable limit, but do we truly believe that will change overnight? More likely, healing will take time, and even 500 years may be unattainable until a couple of centuries of healing have occurred.
Death is painful. It is supposed to be. It is something to avoid. However, without the experience, will people truly fear it? I doubt that.
Therefore, I do believe that there will be death and disappointment in the Millennium. However, there also will be a very real difference. Justice will prevail. People will die of old age more often than anything else. Those who choose to kill will be killed. Those who follow Christ wholeheartedly and become converted will avoid the second death, and there will be many more who will choose this because the great deceiver will be put away.
Speaking of the deceiver, not only will there be death and disappointment in the Millennium, but there will be both shortly thereafter when Satan is once again let loose. Think about why this might be.
If the earth does heal, there will come a generation who has never had to face Satan. They will live from the Millennium into the post-Millennium era. Perhaps longevity will increase to allow as many as possible to live into this time period, of those who did not come out of the devastation and calamities of the Great Tribulation.
In short, they will lose their fear of death. Have we ever considered that death may be a blessing in disguise?
There may well be death and disappointment in the Millennium, but that does not mean things won’t shift as God is allowed to bless people more and more as they become more and more willingly obedient. They will be less and less disappointed, and they will less and less experience death.
The unfortunate side effect is that death and disappointment become points to ponder rather than experience. They become ideas instead of reality. They lose their power to influence.
Eve took of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Did not Adam and Eve already know good and evil? Did not God already explain His way of life to them? Did He truly leave them rudderless and without direction? I think not. The difference is that partaking of the tree allowed them to experience the consequences of good and evil, and thus making the knowledge real rather than just an idea. They did not fear death, as it was just an idea, and even at that was diminished in their minds by the lie of “Ye shall not surely die.” Death did not yet have its sting.
I think I have made a better case that there will be death and disappointment in the Millennium than the fanciful notion that attempts to sanitize reality and God’s plan. However, I fully admit that this is far from “hard proof”. It is OK to speculate to some extent, and sometimes even necessary. However, when we turn speculation into doctrine, we are on dangerous ground.
What I hope that this truly shows is just how important our present circumstances and experiences really are. We will be teachers, coaches and mentors as well as leaders with a rod of iron. I think sometimes we concentrate too much on the rod of iron and not enough on the fact that people will come into the Millennium and will during the Millennium with some real problems. We will be the ones who will have to assist with solving those real problems.
More to the point: The Millennium is not Eden. In fact, it is not even really the Kingdom of God. It will be the time of Christ’s rule, and at its end, He will turn it all over to the Father.
There will be, I believe, death and disappointment in the Millennium, but by the time the New Jerusalem descends upon the new earth, those things will end. It is part of the process towards a goal, but like our physical bodies is a temporary thing that will go away in the Kingdom of God.
Sorry to hear about your surgery problems and sister’s death. It reminded me of something Job said: “When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness.” Job 30:26
And your sister’s behavior problems? I also have relatives that have died and have behavior problems. Something that helps me out is that I strive to remember that: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
These are things that we all deal with in one way or another. I am confident you are doing the best you can with what you have. We are going to continue to endure to the end, whatever, whenever that will be.
I agree with you that death and disappointment will continue on into the millennium. Disappointment will vary from person to person, but I think that Satan isolated in that pit for 1,000 years could encourage one to look forward to a human utopia of sorts. Without having to wrestle principalities one would think would be a huge improvement. Principalities have been a problem ever since Satan infected/infested the minds of both Adam and Eve…even affects true Christians today (James 4:5; I John 3:8, etc.), not to mention this world: Eph 2:2.
There are also hints that Jesus Christ may not be reigning on this earth as early as so many have been led to believe:
Heb 1:13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
1 Peter 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
As you noted Satan exits that pit after the millennium. He will again deceive the entire world and cause people to learn war once again. Where will Jesus Christ be? Why wasn’t Satan stopped from doing that?
Why will death exist during the millennium?
1 Cor 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
To eliminate death, Satan must be destroyed:
Heb 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
:15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
It appears that death, the last enemy, will exist so long as Satan exists, but Ezekiel tells us Satan will one day be destroyed:
“All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.” Ezekiel 28:19
Other verses consistently say that God is “forever,” but Satan is only “for.” That vile, evil, thing, which does serve a purpose to enable us to learn to hate evil, will one day cease existence. And I suspect that will be a merciful thing for God to do for that thing…and all of us.
May you continue to have a delightful Feast of Tabernacles and Eighth Day.
John G wrote: “To eliminate death, Satan must be destroyed”
I think we agree that Satan is not just the author of sin but of death itself. I don’t believe he will be “destroyed”, but he will be put away forever. Until then, death will hang over our heads.
Why is Satan not stopped now or even from returning after the Millennium? Well, I pretty much give the reason in the article, but I will expand upon that shortly.
Thank you for your kind words, re: my sister’s death and my own health issues. Certainly, Satan hates this time of year, and he seems to be very active. I’m not the only one undergoing trials, this I know, but I also know it is all for perfecting God’s children and preparing us all for an eternity in His family.
Sorry to hear your sister died and your surgery hold ups. Life’s nasty moments don’t seem to stop for the Feast, do they?
My next oldest sister died on the last day of Unleavened Bread, due to a blood clot in her lungs. She had a life of very hard health due to a car accident she did not cause when she was 18. Multiple problems and complications led to her death at 62.
I haven’t been able to go to a complete Feast of Tabernacles since 2013 and that was an exhausting experience for me. This year the chairs at the feast site disagreed with my back and after three days I had to throw in the towel and come back home. The two previous years I caught the flu or a cold or some such thing and had to come home.
It can make you wonder if God just doesn’t want you at the Feast of Tabernacles, but that is obviously not true. Numerous people have these types of problems each and every year.
Any way, I just wanted to let you know you are not alone in these things John.
@Todd: Thank you as well for your kind words, as well as for sharing.
“It can make you wonder if God just doesn’t want you at the Feast of Tabernacles, but that is obviously not true.”
Still, I know from experience that it can seem odd that something would be commanded and yet circumstances come along to make it impossible. I guess that is really where faith comes into play as the rubber hits the road. We have to have the faith that God knows we are doing the best we can, and if we are not that He will lovingly show us how we are fooling ourselves.
I know someone in our congregation that, like you, has an extremely bad back. He made it up here only one day this year, although I know he originally intended to attend more than that. It is not my place to judge him. I know my father experienced severe back pain after he fell out of a barn loft onto a sheet of ice, and it was not always obvious how much pain he was in. People are surprised when I tell them about my neck pain, and I know it is because they cannot see or feel the pain I am having at any given moment.
I also know it sounds trite, but there really are people who have it worse off than I, at least physically. It is frightening to me that some of the most spiritual people I know have gone through or are going through some horrendous trials. For better or worse, my problems don’t seem so bad when I talk to some others.
Thanks for your kind reply John!
I always try to remember, when I feel like I am failing or God is not happy with me, to ask Him to sit and reason with me (and others who are in their own predicaments) as He said He will in Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”
What a comfort it is to me that Our great God–the ONLY God anywhere–is a God who is almost infinitely patient and will take the time to reason with us and get that reasoned message to us in some fashion or another, be it a sermon or Bible study or even a discussion with other members or a minister.
I hope it comforts you too John at this time of difficulties–and everyone else who reads that scripture.
Someone once said that the millennium will be a paradise. At the start the world will be a mess. People who survive the tribulation will have even fought the returning Christ or hid from him. It will take time to heal all this. While Satan is restrained, he will live on in the minds of the tribulation survivors who will have to unlearn their wrong attitudes. This will all take time.
Those in the first resurrection are given a job description.
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. NKJV
Their role is to be priests. This role would not be needed if everyone was living a perfect life.
BTW the rod of iron is often misunderstood in my opinion.
Rev. 2:27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ NKJV
Rule NT:4165 poimaino
to rule, with the implication of direct personal involvement – ‘to rule, to govern.’
to herd and tend flocks of sheep or goats – ‘to shepherd, to take care of, to tend, to pasture.
to lead, with the implication of providing for – ‘to guide and to help, to guide and take care of.’
Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domain. Louw and Nida
Rulers are not to be aloof in a castle, but personally involved in helping like a shepherd. And rod refers to a shepherd’s crook.
This word means “staff,” “rod,” “stick,” “sceptre.”
In the LXX the term is used generally for a staff or rod, and specifically for a stick, a shepherd’s staff, a staff for walkers or the elderly, a magician’s rod, an angel’s wand, or a sceptre.
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
Isaiah mentions these 2 sides of rulership.
Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand,
And His arm shall rule for Him;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him. NKJV
God initially comes with a strong hand. He has to use strong force against the Beast power and Gog and Magog.
To deal with Satan and his physical powers a firm hand has to be taken. This gives us confidence that God has the power, ability and desire to remove Satan
But once Satan’s rule is overthrown by force, notice what happens in the very next verse.
He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young. NKJV
God then switches to shepherding the flock. A priest’s role is like that of a shepherd. People in the millennium will need shepherding.
Feed OT:7462 raah
ra±ah OT:7462, “to pasture, shepherd.” Ra°ah represents what a shepherd allows domestic animals to do when they feed on grasses in the fields. Ra±ah can also represent the entire job of a shepherd. Used metaphorically this verb represents a leader’s or a ruler’s relationship to his people.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words
The millennium, thanks to Christ rule, will eventually become a utopia compared to the current world. But as you state that doesn’t mean there won’t be disappointment and problems to deal with. As you state it is not the real Kingdom of God, just a type of the Kingdom when the New Jerusalem is established on the New Earth.
Welcome back, teachercog! Glad to see you commenting again. I think in the past, we have been far too optimistic about the Millennium, and we even often confused it with the actual Kingdom of God. The Millennium is just the precursor to the actual Kingdom, of which we must be spirit to be in it (1Co 15:50). Obviously, the Millennium will be filled with physical people — people who have gone through the greatest shockwaves of all of the history of mankind.
You wrote: “And rod refers to a shepherd’s crook.”
I have heard similar thoughts before, but the problem I have with that view is the context. Even as you yourself quote, the last part of the verse says, “They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels”. It is obvious in this context that we are not talking about a shepherd’s rod (which, BTW, is different than a shepherd’s staff).
In fact, this is a quote from Ps 2:9. This psalm starts out with the familiar words, “Why do the nations rage? And the people plot a vain thing?” These people further plot against the Anointed. IOW, this is pre-Millennial and represents how God, through Christ, will put down the nations and break their war-mongering and arrogancy.
Rev 19:15 also uses the term “rod of iron”, which gives us the context of the winepress of the wrath of God. Again, I see nowhere in Scripture where this term is used of a shepherd’s rod.
In fact, would a shepherd’s rod be made of iron? That seems unlikely. It would have been not only expensive but heavy. A rod was typically worn from the belt, so it makes little sense it would be metallic.
Stackexchange has a picture of a modern shepherd with rod, staff and a gun for comparison. It is obvious that the rod and staff are both wooden.
The point is that a rod can be made of many things and for many purposes. Once again, proper discernment requires taking things into context.
You are right a rod and staff both were made of wood. Obviously to describe a rod as iron is analogous of a deeper meaning.
I think what is being emphasised is that this rod is so strong that it will break the final beast kingdom of ion and clay toes in pieces (Dan. 2:44). However by using the word “rod” in combination with the word “shepherding” I think it is portraying the 2 sides of Christ. He is both lion and lamb/shepherd. Once the beast power is destroyed by an iron rod then he will shepherd his people with the shepherds rod which is a gentle correcting instrument.
In many parts of the Bible Jesus is described in 2 contrasting analogies. For example, Rev. 5:5 he is the Lion of Judah. In Rev 5:6 as a slain lamb.
While force is needed to deal with beast powers etc., Christ and Saints will work patiently with people in the millennium. Just a Christ is patience and longsuffering with us in our lives now.
I suppose in the past I have heard too many use the “rod of Iron” phase as a means of enforcing iron willed dictatorship over people. Rather shepherds gently lead the flock, not force the flock.
@teachercog: Well, in principle I don’t disagree with you. I just maintain that this verse is referring to dealing with rebellious humans at His return. The analogy of us being clay is in multiple Bible verses, so the analogy of breaking up clay pots as a potter would any clay vessel that refuses to take the proper shape is appropriate. Since it says a rod of iron and not wood, I don’t see anything about shepherding in this verse. There are, however, multiple verses that show the Messiah as a shepherd, and Jesus gave many parables using sheep as examples. I believe these to also be true. It’s just not in this verse.
Remember, clay pots are broken before they are fired if they are defective. They can be re-watered and remade. Our own hearts must be broken before conversion, else we probably would never repent. Often, the more broken, the better. Take Saul, who later became Paul. He was convinced he was doing the right thing until God struck him down. In the OT, King Manasseh was a very evil king who was taken captive and repented. Perhaps you and I were not broken in such a dramatic fashion (or, perhaps we came close if we were very wicked), yet how can we come to God except by brokenness? I daresay that those who do not are usually the first to hit the door once they find a good excuse to do so.
John Gill’s commentary states:
A commentary at ActiveChristianity.org makes an excellent point that in order to free the helpless, the oppressed and the underprivileged, we will need rods of iron to break them free from their taskmasters. We will be the sheriffs riding into the wild west, and we will have to be harsh with the harsh and gentle with the traumatized.
There is a section on Reddit that I won’t link to because of the language, but many people there discuss re-using clay, even grinding down bad pottery into dust and then reinvigorating it with water in order to re-use it. All pottery that has not come in contact with contaminants is re-usable. I think the parallel is quite apt. As long as the human heart can be cleansed, meaning that the subject must be a willing participant, the brokenness can be used by God to create something new and better.