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The Heavenly Jury

During the millennium, Christ invites His people to assist Him in the judgment of the wicked.

“That’s the way it is because I said so!” Perhaps you grew up hearing this line, or something similar, from your parents. I hope not. But think about that declaration for a moment. Would it develop in you a sense of trust toward your parents?

Unfortunately, many people view God in His sovereignty in the same way, as One who is to be unflinchingly obeyed and followed—no questions asked! Now, would that develop in you a sense of trust toward God?

Thankfully, the God of the Bible is a far cry from the way that many have painted Him. He is a God who values transparency and gives us evidence upon which to base our trust in Him. In fact, He cares so much about giving us an assurance of His fairness that He is going to give us the opportunity to review the decisions He has made in regard to the wicked. We as a heavenly “jury” will judge the cases of the lost together with Christ.  

“When?” you may wonder. The Bible speaks of a period of 1,000 years when this and other events will take place. Though many have heard of the 1,000 years, or millennium, few understand its positioning in future events and what will occur during that time. Let’s explore it in chronological order.

The Beginning of the 1,000 Years

1. When does the millennium begin? Revelation 20:4–6; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17

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In Revelation 20:4, the KJV uses the word “lived” when speaking of the righteous. However, that word is better translated “came alive.” The 1,000-year period begins with the climactic second coming of Jesus and a resurrection.

2. Who will be resurrected at the beginning of the millennium? John 5:28, 29; Revelation 20:4, 5

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The Bible speaks of two resurrections: the resurrection of life and the resurrection of condemnation. Those who are resurrected at the beginning of the millennium are the righteous, who are given eternal life. The unrighteous, on the other hand, will not live again until after the millennium.

3. Where will the righteous—both those who are alive and those who have been resurrected—go? 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; John 14:1–3 (see also Matthew 10:32)

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4. What happens to the unsaved at this time? Isaiah 11:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8; Revelation 20:5

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The unrighteous are destroyed at the coming of Jesus. They will remain dead until the resurrection of condemnation following the 1,000 years.

5. What happens to Satan? Revelation 20:1–3

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Satan will be bound at the beginning of the 1,000 years and cast into the bottomless pit. Because Revelation is a symbolic book, we understand that the bottomless pit here is a symbolic reference to the earth. The Greek word abussos that is translated as “bottomless pit” is equivalent to the Hebrew word used to describe the earth as “without form, and void” before Creation. Genesis 1:2. Thus, Revelation depicts a very desolate scene of the earth. Satan will be “bound” here on the earth in the sense that he is out of work; he no longer has anyone to deceive or harass because all the wicked are dead and the righteous are in heaven

During the 1,000 Years

1. How does the Bible further describe the condition of the earth during the 1,000 years? Jeremiah 4:23–28; 25:33

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These Bible passages were written by the prophet Jeremiah who saw the earth in this condition in vision. The wicked will be dead and strewn across the earth; the land will be as a wasted wilderness.

2. As we saw in the first section of this study, the saved are caught up to heaven at the beginning of the 1,000 years. What will they do there? Revelation 20:4

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3. Whom will the saved be judging? 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3

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It may be a strange thought to you that the saved will have the task of judgment while in heaven for the 1,000 years. After all, the cases of all humanity will be decided before Jesus comes so that He can bring His reward with Him. Revelation 22:11, 12. Thus, the saved are not deciding on the fate of individuals, but they will be reviewing the records of those who are lost—both mankind and angels—to understand the reason behind their exclusion from heaven. In this way, they bear witness to the fairness and transparency of God! Revelation 15:2–4.

The End of the 1,000 Years

1. What will come down from heaven at the end of the 1,000 years, and who will come with it? Revelation 21:2, 3

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2. What will happen to the wicked who are dead? Revelation 20:5

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The wicked will be resurrected because the verse says that they will not live again until the end of the 1,000 years.

3. What will be Satan’s last attempt at warring against God? Revelation 20:7–9

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With the resurrection of the wicked, Satan is released from his “prison.” Once again, he has people whom he can deceive, and he sets himself to this work for the last time. He hopes that he might still be able to gather together an army to battle against the city of God, the New Jerusalem, that has come down from heaven.

4. What will God do at this time to put a final end to sin, sinners, and Satan? Revelation 20:9, 14, 15

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At long last, sin, sinners, and Satan are destroyed by the lake of fire. Contrary to the beliefs of some, the wicked are not given a second chance at the end of the 1,000 years. Though no doubt painful for a God who does not delight in the death of sinners (Ezekiel 18:32), this complete destruction is actually an act of mercy; the wicked have not given any evidence of a change of heart through their attempts to overthrow God’s city, and God knows that their rebellious and prideful hearts would not be happy in heaven.

5. When the earth has been cleansed by fire, what will the saved have the privilege of seeing God do? Revelation 21:1

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Not a single individual on earth was present when God created the earth the first time; but this time, all the saved will be able to watch God recreate the earth! The Edenic beauty that was lost at the fall of Adam and Eve will once again be restored.

6. Where will God and the righteous live? Revelation 21:3; Matthew 5:5

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Instead of remaining in heaven, God intends to make the new earth His home so that He can be near to His beloved people. To learn more about this wonderful place, read the article entitled “Earth’s Extreme Makeover” in this issue.

Commitment

As you have contemplated its timing and the events associated with the millennium, you may be considering where you fit into the picture. Do you want to be part of those who are eternally saved and have the opportunity to review the records in heaven? Is it your desire to stand in the New Jerusalem and watch God create the new earth? If so, will you commit to allowing Jesus to remove every bit of rebellion in your heart so that you can be ready for that day?

“Great and marvellous are Thy
works, Lord God Almighty; just
and true are Thy ways, Thou
King of saints.” Revelation 15:3

For further study, we suggest the following resource: The Great Controversy 

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