Sunday, February 05, 2017

The Millennial Kingdom and the Blame Game

What do these statements have in common?

“hollywood is to blame, so is tv”
— AllergicToEggs

“The devil made me do it”
— Flip Wilson     

Well, yes, they are both examples of the blame game we all play regularly.

Good By Nature

The first trope has a bunch of variant formulations, all of which boil down to something similar. Mankind is basically good by nature. His individual failings (from terrorism to obesity and everything in between) are variously attributed to government, society, an unloving family, the media, lack of education, bullying, inequality, injustice, unemployment, sickness, poverty or a bad hair day. The theory goes that if only we invested enough effort in eliminating these externals, mankind’s essential goodness would be universally evident.

I think you may agree that the second statement (the one about the devil) is most frequently voiced by people who don’t actually believe in Satan. I view it as generally frivolous or dismissive rather than an authentic philosophical position.

But the two statements have another thing in common: they will not forever remain matters of argument or conjecture. A time is coming in which both statements will be put to the test in such a way as to demonstrate unequivocally their truth or falsehood. That time is the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Why on Earth Do We Need a Millennial Reign?

G.B. Fyfe, in an article so old I can’t even link to it for you, supplies three reasons for the millennium prophesied in both Old and New Testaments:
  1. Having crowned the ascended Christ with glory and honour in heaven, God will also glorify him on earth, the scene of his humiliation and rejection.
  2. So far, every form of human government has failed hopelessly. In contrast, God’s king will be an unqualified success.
  3. There are certain unconditional promises God has given to Israel that await fulfillment.
But we ought to add one more:
  1. When the millennium has drawn to its bloody close, nobody will ever again make an argument for the innate goodness of man. All excuses for man’s behavior will be demonstrated to be lies and nonsense.
The millennium is not the New Jerusalem. It is not the final destiny of believers in Christ, neither is it heaven, nor even a return to the conditions of Eden. It is the earth that now exists, but with its curse removed, under Jesus Christ’s perfect administration.

Millennial Conditions

During the millennial reign of Christ, government will be completely fair, without bias or abuse. Nobody in a position of power will be able to use his position of advantage to feather his nest and the nests of his friends, or to harass his enemies. Society will be without negative or corrupting influences. Justice will be without flaw. Wars will be a thing of the past: “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.” Many of us think that the ‘increase of government’ is a bad thing, but that’s because we have good reason to be suspicious of those to whom government is entrusted. An infallible, gracious ruler can be trusted to govern perfectly.

On top of that, there will be little call for anything like Obamacare or National Health: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.”

However, though the citizens of the millennial kingdom will live extraordinarily long, healthy lives, they will not have glorified bodies and will still be subject to death eventually — again, not heaven, not Eden, but a perfectly governed, curse-less earth. It is not the final state. It is an opportunity for man to prove once and for all that he is perfectible as is.

Into the Bottomless Pit

If this were not enough, for the duration of the millennium the excuse that “the devil made me do it” will also be rendered invalid, as Satan will be out of commission.

While very few people employ this excuse sincerely (those who actually believe in the devil are, sadly, among the more likely to do so), the Lord will remove every possible external temptation to sin, including the Father of Lies himself.

But there will be no starvation or poverty, because the earth, no longer under the curse, will bring forth everything needed for its human population: “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus” and “in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes”.

There’s a great deal more to be said about conditions in the millennium, much more than I could lay out in one post or even a series, but pretty much everything we need to know can be found in Isaiah 35, 60-62 and 65, Ezekiel 40-48, Micah 4 or Revelation 20-22.

What the Heart Wants

You would think with no war, adequate provision for everyone, perfectly distributed, there will be no need for unhappiness, right?

Wrong. At the end of the 1000 year reign, we read:
“Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them.”
Why on earth would anyone fall for Satan’s lies after 1000 years of perfect government? Why would humanity rebel against that for which it has been asking since time immemorial? But, in fact, most of the population of the earth at that point in time will do so.

To understand why, we need only refer to an Emily Dickinson quote slightly modified and made considerably more famous by no less a philosopher than Woody Allen: “The heart wants what the heart wants”.

Even with all external temptations removed, man is still corrupt and corruptible. Hope in the innate goodness of man is a forlorn hope indeed. The hope of glory is not “Christ ruling you” or “Christ surrounding you”.

The hope of glory is “Christ in you”.

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