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The Kingdom of God
The thousand years of peace of the millennium (Rev 20:1-6) represents the Kingdom of God set up after the destruction of all terrestrial powers, which is also prophesied by the smashing of Daniel’s statue (see The prophecy of Daniel’s statue). This so-called premillennialism, that is, the belief in an earthly reign of Christ for one thousand years between his second advent and the Last Judgment, is disputed among Christians. It is argued, for instance, that the Gospels do not separate the second coming and the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) (see Catholic Answers: The Rapture). However, this cannot be taken as an argument against premillennialism because the Gospels only give a short overview on the end times. Leaving out a detail does not contradict it. Furthermore, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pe 3:8; Ps 90:4). So the time between the glorious return of Christ and the Last Judgment is simply ignored by the Gospels. What counts is the detailed report of Revelation which unmistakably advocates premillennialism.
A more commonly held view is amillennialism, that is, the belief that the millennium is a spiritual reign of Christ from heaven that has already taken place with the Church. It is true that the millennial Kingdom is prefigured by the centuries lasting marriage between the Church and State in Europe from the fifth century, after the fall of the Roman empire, which in turn prefigures the breaking of the future terrestrial powers (see here). However, taking this prefiguration as the only fulfillment of the millennial prophecy is completely wrong.
One may consider the millennial reign as a fifth cycle incorporated in the spiritual era (see Summary of salvation history). At its end however, “the first heaven and the first earth” will be dissolved (Rev 20:11-21:1) and only the invisible world of the angels will persist. Such as the laws of nature were created then, namely during the revival phase (see The life cycle of the angels and humans), the physical universe will disappear during the same phase of this fifth era, as we are going to see. Since history in the spiritual world does not repeat itself by numerous cycles, the era of the angels and the era of the millennium comprise only a single cycle each. The thousand years of peace will evidently constitute the first phase of this last cycle taking place on earth.
Hence the millennium consists of a terrestrial peacetime, during which the resuscitated Saints will become priests of Christ (Rev 20:6). They may officiate like Jesus, who, after his resurrection, appeared as priest to two disciples, with whom he sat down to table, “took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them” (Lk 24:13-30). They may accomplish their services for the humans of flesh and blood who have survived the cataclysm of the fourth cycle (see here). This supernatural presence also signifies that their reign with Christ (Rev 20:6) will not be political. In any case, the Kingdom of Christ is not terrestrial (Jn 18:36). This supernatural priesthood of the resuscitated Saints is already the first sign of the transition from the terrestrial to the celestial world during this cycle.
Just as the apparitions of the Lord during forty days after his resurrection is a phase of apparition, the apparitions of the last Saints will have the same purpose (see Apparition and Spirit). One can therefore suppose that the people of the millennium will abundantly receive the Holy Spirit, which will not only establish peace between nations but also in the hearts of individuals. This is why the millennium is equal to the great messianic period so hoped for by Israel:
It shall come to pass in the latter days
It is likely that the judgment of World War III will destroy all modern industry and entirely paralyze its functioning. Although it is an exaggeration to qualify modern technology as the work of the Devil, it will nevertheless finally serve to give the Antichrist his worldwide power, which would be unthinkable without modern military supremacy. His adoration by the masses will only be possible with up to date communication systems. His resurrection (Rev 13:3) will probably be realized by an extraordinary medical exploit or a high-tech hoax rather than a supernatural miracle. And his image, which can speak and put to death all those who do not adore it (Rev 13:15), will barely be a diabolic supernatural magic but a sophisticated electronic device. This is why it is improbable that an industry like ours, or even one that would surpass it, will be reconstructed, even though cultural achievements as well as scientific knowledge will eventually be preserved.
High technology is not necessary for the research of God and for a life in peace. It certainly confers comfort and material richness to a society, but the problem is that it does not grow on trees. It must be invented and manufactured, often at the expense of social and environmental compromises. Even green high technology has such an absorbing complexity that it diverts from the essential, even though it is conceived to have no negative impact on the environment.
So one will possibly return to a traditional economy based on manual work and be happy with a simple life in harmony with nature during the millennium. One will work in a state of mind impregnated with renunciation and disposition to sacrifice. In fact, the liberation from the punishment of work (Gen 3:19) does not consist in avoiding it through a complex economy and overflowing prosperity – this way it only gets worse – but to accept work with humility and modesty, and to understand its sense.
At the term of the thousand years of peace, “Satan will be loosed from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth [...] to gather them for battle” against “the Saints and the beloved city” (Rev 20:7-9). This will unleash the phase of sin of this cycle. Satan is hence really a seducer who has considerable power over humans if he is able to persuade them – after a thousand years of perfect peace – that God has bad intentions or does not exist or whatever. In any case, they will attempt to seize Jerusalem believing that God can be arrested, imprisoned and executed like thousands of years ago.
This will be a fatal error, because they will be consumed by a fire coming down from heaven (Rev 20:9). Unlike the preceding deluge of fire during World War III (see The flood of fire of the end times), this last one will be purely supernatural. Satan and all the other fallen angels will receive an eternal punishment and never again leave their prison (Rev 20:10). During the same judgment phase, all people who have ever lived on earth will be resuscitated to be judged (Rev 20:11-15). This is the Last Judgment.
The resurrection of everyone goes hand in hand with the dissolution of the material world: “From his [of God’s] presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them” (Rev 20:11). Afterwards, there is a new sky and a new earth (Rev 21:1) with rivers, trees (Rev 22, 1-2) and the celestial Jerusalem (Rev 21:9-27). This is why the mortal remains of all the dead will transform at the same time and unite again to their souls to form spiritual bodies, according to Ezekiel 37:5-6:
Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.
At the end, “there shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it [in Jerusalem], and his servants shall worship him. They shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads. And night shall be no more. They need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev 22:3). This is the final residence of God in the middle of Jerusalem and his people (see The daughter of Zion).
This is the revival phase, with which the cycles of history will end. Does this mean that time will come to an end too? When one speaks of the last events, one situates them often at the end of time. The world was effectively created in the origin of time. This invites us to think that time is effectively temporary and will cease to exist one day. Time is a topic of all religions, philosophies and science. Buddhists think that it is an illusion. Before special relativity, one believed in absolute time and space, according to Isaac Newton. Modern physicists think about new theories, in which time does not exist anymore. In fact, time may only be an abstract conception linked to human perception. It is comparable to money, which was invented in order to give buyable objects a value of labor.
Whatever one thinks about time, the perspective of an end of time probably makes most people uncomfortable. A world outside of time having no movement and change is easily associated with an eternal prison. This is why I personally rather tend to believe that we will always perceive time passing whether in this world or the next, although one can only speculate about what exactly awaits us there. In the description of the paradise given by the second account of creation, however, there are unmistakably mentioned four rivers. Such a description would have no sense if these rivers did not flow. Now, if in the paradise there are flowing rivers, there must also be a flowing time.
An eternal flow of time also implies that God’s absolute objectivity and knowledge can never be reached by any created being, whether on earth or in heaven. This means that we must accept our eternal subjectivity. Fortunately, being subjective does not mean being in error. It just implies a restricted vision, for subjectivity resembles objectivity and is part of it. But this resemblance is relative and will never equal God’s absolute objectivity. It may be in this sense that we must renounce putting ourselves in the place of God and become like children (Mt 18:1-4; 19:13-15) (see The contradiction with the law of increasing disorder and The life cycle of the angels and humans), who will forever be occupied with always better understanding and enjoying the mystery of God.
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