What’s the Point of the Millennium?

Mike Wittmer, a fellow premillennialist, once asked me what the millennium does. Why is it there?

As I was pondering the Big Story of the Bible in preparation to preach an overview kind of sermon recently, the thought began to take shape in my head that the millennium provides another point of contact–a typological point of contact–between Adam and Jesus. Consider the parallels:

Adam was in the undefiled garden, living before God in Eden. The garden was invaded and defiled by Satan. Adam and Eve did not withstand the temptation but sinned and were expelled from God’s presence.

In Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 Paul discusses the way that Adam was a type of the one to come, Jesus, whose obedience would match and overcome Adam’s disobedience. Paul also makes clear that whereas in Adam all die, in Christ all shall be made alive.

In his first coming, Jesus obeyed where Adam disobeyed and gave life where Adam gave death.

At his second coming (Rev 19), Jesus will cleanse the land of the serpent and his seed, restoring creation to an Eden-like state. The thousand year reign of Christ in Revelation 20:4–6 matches the thousand year life-spans of Adam and other pre-flood figures (cf. Gen 5).

Having reigned for a thousand years in an undefiled, cleansed creation, Jesus gets another chance to succeed where Adam failed. Adam lived in undefiled purity and innocence but sinned at Satan’s instigation. Having established a millennial kingdom, a golden age of undefiled innocence, Jesus has subdued the earth, filling and ruling over it as God commanded Adam to do, when Satan is released from the pit (Rev 20:7).

We are not told where Cain got his wife at the beginning, and we are not told where Satan got his followers at the end. But we can see a clear contrast between Adam and Jesus:

Adam in Eden failed to stand before the Satanic revolt. He sinned and was exiled from God’s presence.
Christ at the end of the millennium will stand fast against the Satanic revolt. He will conquer and bring about the new heaven and new earth, the new Jerusalem, the new and better Eden.

It seems, then, that the point of the millennium is to begin the renewal of creation that will be completed once Christ has triumphed in circumstances similar to those under which Adam was conquered. Adam sinned in Eden, but Jesus will overcome Satan at the end of the edenic millennium. Whereas Adam was driven from the garden, the conquest of Christ opens the way for the edening of all creation, in fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose.

“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:3–5). 

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  1. Interesting thoughts, Jim. I like how this bookends the story and makes for a fitting inclusio. It’s the most persuasive historic premill view I’ve heard yet. One reservation is that seems a bit anti-climactic. Given all that Jesus has already done in the cross, resurrection, and will do in his return, it is hardly a surprise that he won’t be defeated by Satan as Adam was. But perhaps the fact that it seems to be a real possibility for some of Satan’s followers heightens the drama. Later today we’ll learn whether LeBron will be likely leading the charge.

  2. As someone who holds to the amillennial position, I appreciate this perspective. I have wondered, IF the millennium is future (and not now), what is the point? This provides me with something to think about. However, did not Jesus already withstand Satan’s temptation in the wilderness? Did he not already stand firm in a garden when he sweated, as it were, drops of blood? Does he need to do that twice?

  3. Christ has already “been offered once to bear the sins of many.” He has already succeeded where Adam failed. Why then would he need “another chance” to do what he’s already done?

    1. Well, why would there be repeated installments in the pattern of Israel’s history in the infancy narratives in Matt 1–2, followed by more instances of the pattern in John 6–8, and then the same exodus pattern in the book of Revelation?

  4. Good work on the thousand year life spans. But why take the 1000 years literally when it appears in a book full of symbols?
    I know that sounds like a cop out, but every symbol in the Revelation has its source in the Old Testament. The “Here is wisdom…” and “666” in Revelation 13 are allusions to Solomon, and the point at which his corruption began. The Land Beast was a Jewish king. So what is the Old Testament source for the millennium? It does begin with the antediluvian lifespans, but the “Tabernacle” where God dwells also lasts for 1000 years. It was 1000 years from the offering of Isaac on Moriah to David’s purchase of that site for the Temple (1000 years of tent worship), then another 1000 years from the construction of Solomon’s Temple to the destruction of Herod’s Temple (1000 years of house worship). What does this mean in Revelation? A new administration in a new kind of house.
    But what is the purpose of this administration? That can only be deduced from the structure of the book, which among other things is sacrificial (http://bitly.com/1poXO4y). The millennial reign is the inheritance of the all the Old Covenant saints, and they received it at the end of the Old Covenant (which corresponded to the avenging of the blood of Abel). It began around AD70 and will end when the Gospel has conquered the world. The Revelation also works its way through the first seven books of the Bible, hence the first fruits (Apostolic) martyrs sitting on thrones as Judges, as Jesus promised. There is a new government in heaven, and it is human.

  5. Hello Dr. Hamilton,

    I must confess I have never seen the “typological point of contact” that you brought out between Adam and Christ concerning the millennium. All this does is fuel me for more study on this particular section of Scripture. Thank you for your passion and commitment to the the Word of Truth.

  6. Thanks for the interesting post. I’ve just ordered your “Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches” and “What Is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible’s Story, Symbolism, and Patterns “, as well as Eckhard Schnabel’s “40 Questions About the End Times.” I’m really looking forward to all three, since I’m genuinely struggling to make the best sense of this complex issue. I’m currently reading Dr. Robert D. Culvers “Daniel and the Latter Days.” Have you read it? If so, what did you think of his arguments?
    I’m also curious what your take is on “the man of sin/son of perdition/lawless one” in 2 Thessalonians, the “little horn” of Daniel 7, the “abomination of desolation” of Daniel 9, 11, and 12 (and spoken of by Jesus), and the “best” of Revelation 13. Specifically, are they all the same person? If not, who (and when) are they?

    1. Thanks! I haven’t read Culver. I think the little horn from Daniel’s third kingdom points to Antiochus Epiphanes, and the little horn from the fourth points to the Antichrist. The little horn from the third kingdom is a type of the little horn from the fourth. Man of lawlessness is Antichrist, and I think he’s in view in Dan 9 and in Rev 13. See my new book, With the Clouds of Heaven: The Book of Daniel in Biblical Theology.

  7. That should have been “beast of Revelation”, not “best.” Wouldn’t want you to think I’m in charge of his welcoming committee. haha

  8. Hey, Jim

    This is an honest question:
    Is it possible for unbelievers to exist in a undefiled, cleansed creation, like Eden was. Considering this is what is implied in the millennium as explained above.

    1. It looks to me like there are unbelievers who don’t worship the conquering King in Zechariah 14:16–19. I think what I’m trying to say above is that Jesus will be restoring this world to an edenic state in the millennium.

      1. Ok, I see what your saying, your using the text in zechariah 14:16-19 itself to support your claim. My assumption was that since unbelievers are seen to exist in this reign at 14:16-19, then zechariah 14:8 must mean something else, like a restoring the world to a state that was like the promise land before the exile. Thus, the new heavens and new earth would be that which experiences the edenic state in which the curse is reversed. That being said would you state that the the renewal at the millennium is a process of “edening” that finds its consummation at the new heavens and new earth. The reason I ask is because it seems to me that Zech 14:8, Ezek 47:1-12 and Rev 22:1-3 all talk of renewal and this leaves 4 possibilities:

        1. All refer to the new heavens and new earth

        2. Zech 14:8 and Ezek 47:1-12 refer to a restoration that of the promise land but short of Eden, during the millennium. While Rev 22:1-3, the new heavens and new earth, represents a restoration to Eden.

        3. Zech 14:8 refers to the millennium short of Eden, while both Ezek 47:1-12 and Rev 22:1-3 refer to the new heaven and new earth, as Eden.(as both the Ezekiel passage and Revelation passage share similar themes)

        4. Zech 14:8 and Ezek 47:1-12 refers to a edening state, however this is a process beginning at the millennium which finds its consummation at the new heavens and new earth, Rev 22:1-3. [kind of like a parallel to the restoration of the people of God as a process. Regeneration, sanctification(process) and ultimately glorification.]

        Would you agree with one of the four or is there another option I am overlooking.

          1. We will indeed! At least we can be sure of one thing. He is returning to bring complete restoration!

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