Judgment Seat of Christ
Arlen L. Chitwood
A Rod of Iron
Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.”
I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son; Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’” (Psalm 2:1-9)
The scene in the second Psalm depicts the final thrust and end of Gentile world power, followed by Christ’s rule over the earth. Events in Psalm 2:1ff parallel events in Revelation 19:11ff. There is, however, a near and a far fulfillment of Psalm 2:1-3.
The near fulfillment occurred at Christ’s first coming, in connection with His sufferings and humiliation (Acts 4:23-28); and the far fulfillment will occur at Christ’s second coming, in connection with His glory and exaltation (Revelation 2:26, 27; 19:15).
The final thrust of Gentile world power under Satan will be against the “King of kings, and Lord of lords” Himself. Gentile world power will be reduced to naught, the scepter will change hands, and God’s Son will then reign supreme and rule the earth in righteousness with a rod of iron.
Times . . . Fullness of the Gentiles
The day in which we presently live is known in Scripture as “the times of the Gentiles.” This expression simply refers to that period during which Gentile nations hold the scepter. This period began with the conquest of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar over twenty-six hundred years ago (605 B.C.), and it will end following a future conquest of Jerusalem under the Antichrist. And Jerusalem, in that future day, is to be “trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).
This action by the Gentile nations has to do with a final treading under foot during the rule of Antichrist; and according to Matthew 24:15-26 (which parallels Luke 21:20-24) and Revelation 11:2, this will occur during the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation. Christ will then return and bring an end to Gentile world supremacy.
“The fullness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:25), on the other hand, is an expression referring to a work of God among the Gentiles during a part of the period known as “the times of the Gentiles.” This activity involves God turning His attention to the Gentiles “to take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:14).
Contextually in Romans chapter eleven, the time during which God brings this to pass is following Israel’s unbelief and rejection at Christ’s first coming — over six hundred years after the beginning of “the times of the Gentiles.” And by comparing the same context with related Scripture, it is clear that “the fullness of the Gentiles” covers the complete period extending from the time of Israel’s unbelief and rejection at Christ’s first coming to the time of Israel’s belief and acceptance at His second coming, which would cover time throughout both the present dispensation and the future Tribulation.
God brings “the fullness of the Gentiles” to pass during the present dispensation by placing believing Gentiles together in the same body with believing Jews, forming the one new man “in Christ” (vv. 5, 11, 20; cf. Ephesians 2:12-15; 3:1-6). During the present dispensation, the Spirit of God is in the world searching for a bride for God’s Son who will reign as consort queen with Him during the Messianic Era. And the bride is being taken from the one new man “in Christ,” made up mainly of individuals removed from the Gentiles rather than from the Jews (though individuals removed from the Jews are included).
Then, following the one new man’s removal from the earth at the end of the dispensation (the resurrection and rapture of Christians), numerous Gentiles will be saved during the Tribulation. And, though they will not form part of the bride of Christ, many from this group will hold regal positions in the kingdom as well (cf. Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 2:26, 27; 6:9-11; 7:9-17; 20:4-6).
The vast multitude of Gentiles saved during the Tribulation — mainly through the ministry of 144,000 Jewish evangels during the last three and one-half years — will complete “the fullness of the Gentiles”; and the armies under Antichrist will constitute the final thrust of Gentile supremacy during “the times of the Gentiles.”
The period during which God removes from the Gentiles “a people for His name” (effecting “the fullness of the Gentiles”), and the period known as “the times of the Gentiles” (during which Gentiles, because of Israel’s disobedience, hold the scepter), will both end at the same time — with Christ’s return. The return of Christ will immediately follow “the fullness of the Gentiles” being realized (Romans 11:26; Acts 15:16); and the return of Christ will, as well, through the destruction of Gentile world power, bring an end to “the times of the Gentiles.”
God’s removal of “a people for His name,” from among the Gentiles, is for purposes involving the government of the earth, to be realized following “the times of the Gentiles.” That is, during the concluding two millennia of Gentile supremacy under Satan, God has been removing from the Gentiles “a people for His name” to exercise supremacy over the nations during the coming age.
The reason for man’s very existence upon the earth involves dominion over the earth. Adam was brought into existence for this purpose (Genesis 1:26-28), Israel was brought into existence for this purpose (Exodus 4:22, 23), and the Church was brought into existence for this same purpose (Hebrew 2:10).
Because of Israel’s disobedience and unbelief, “the times of the Gentiles” and “the fullness of the Gentiles” were both made necessary. Israel’s disobedience during the days of the Old Testament theocracy led to the nation being uprooted and dispersed among the Gentile nations, beginning “the times of the Gentiles”; and Israel’s rejection and unbelief surrounding their Messiah and the offer of the kingdom of the heavens at Christ’s first coming led to the setting aside of the nation, anticipating God’s removal of “a people for His name” from among the Gentiles.
The present exercise of Gentile supremacy (“the times of the Gentiles”) is simply a rule by fallen man under Satan that can last only until God has accomplished His purpose for Man’s Day (in which “the fullness of the Gentiles” will occur). The length of the period during which Gentiles will be allowed to exercise supremacy is shown by Nebuchadnezzar’s image in Daniel chapter two. Gentile power, depicted by the image, came into existence during the days of Nebuchadnezzar; and it will pass out of existence during the days of Antichrist (Daniel 2:31-45; cf. Daniel 7:1-14; 8:1-25).
That which is depicted by the image in Daniel chapter two came into existence because of the disobedience of God’s firstborn son, Israel; and that which is depicted by this image will one day pass out of existence by and through the action of God’s firstborn Son, Jesus.
The image is seen smitten in its final form by Christ at the time of His return, bringing an end to Gentile supremacy and opening the way for God’s firstborn sons (three firstborn Sons in that day — Jesus, the Church, and Israel) to exercise the rights of primogeniture.
With this in mind, it should be noted that there is possibly nothing more out of place in the world today than Christians becoming involved with the present Gentile governmental system under Satan. Christians comprise a separate, distinct creation; they comprise the one new man, called into existence to participate in a government under Christ during the coming age, after the present system under Satan has been destroyed. And they are to fix their attention on that future day, following “the times of the Gentiles.” They are to pray for and be subject to incumbent rulers (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-3; 1 Peter 2:13-17), but they are not themselves to hold the scepter during the present day and time (1 Corinthians 4:2-5; 2 Timothy 2:4, 5).
Removed From, Positioned In
The Gentile nations, although they have been allowed to rule the earth under Satan throughout “the times of the Gentiles,” are, in one sense of the word, not in a position to rule. Christ’s future rule, Israel’s future rule, and the future rule of the Church all center on exercising the rights belonging to the firstborn; and Gentile nations are in no position to exercise these rights. The Gentiles are “aliens from the commonwealth [Greek: politeia, ‘citizenship,’ ‘political activity’] of Israel” (Ephesians 2:12). They possess no birthright.
(The Greek word politeia in Ephesians 2:12 is a cognate form of the word politikos, from which the English word “politics” is derived. Note the use of politeuma, another cognate form of the same word, with the same basic meaning, in Philippians 3:20:
“For our citizenship [KJV: conversation — politeuma, ‘political sphere of activity’— is in heaven [‘heavens’], from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”)
The rights of the firstborn, the “birthright,” has to do with firstborn sons. Israel’s standing as “firstborn” while still in Egypt during the days of Moses (Exodus 4:22) placed this nation in an entirely different standing to that which was held by any Gentile nation. Israel had been adopted, and no Gentile nation has ever entered or will ever enter into this experience (Romans 9:4; cf. Psalm 147:19, 20).
Gentile nations were to be ruled by the one nation in possession of the rights of primogeniture. Gentile nations themselves were not to rule, for they did not possess primogenital rights. And their present rule, although allowed by God, is something that must end, if for no other reason than the alienated position occupied by the nations. The scepter must ultimately be delivered into the hands of those in a position to exercise the rights of primogeniture. Only then will God bestow His full blessings upon mankind in accordance with Genesis 12:2, 3; 22:17, 18.
This is the reason for the existence of the nation of Israel and the bringing into existence of the one new man “in Christ.” Israel awaits her blindness being lifted after God completes His work with respect to “the fullness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:26); and God taking out of the Gentiles “a people for His name” will bring into existence, following the adoption (Romans 8:23), a second segment of mankind placed in a position to exercise the rights of primogeniture. Israel, still retaining her standing as firstborn, will exercise these rights upon earth (following the nation’s repentance and conversion); and the Church, coming into the position of firstborn (following the adoption), will exercise these rights from the heavens over the earth.
God is presently in the process of accomplishing a work that will result in “many sons” being brought “to glory” (Hebrew 2:10; cf. Romans 8:18, 19). These “sons” are mainly individuals being removed from the nations presently holding the scepter, with a view to these sons one day holding the scepter. The immersion in the Spirit of those believing on the Lord Jesus Christ places them “in Christ,” a part of the one new man. And because they are positionally “in Christ” (who is Abraham’s Seed), this allows God to recognize them as “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (cf. Romans 4:13; Galatians 3:26-29).
Then there is also the “remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5), consisting of believing Jews who avail themselves of the redemption which is “in Christ.” And, by and through this same immersion in the Spirit, believing Jews find themselves in exactly the same position as believing Gentiles — a part of the one new man, becoming “fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:1-6).
Believing Gentiles are being removed from the nations of the earth, and believing Jews are being removed from the nation of Israel. Individuals from both groups relinquish their national identities, becoming new creations “in Christ,” part of the one new man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:11-15).
Believing Gentiles come into possession of a calling, a heavenly calling; and believing Jews relinquish their earthly calling and come into possession of a higher calling, a heavenly calling. These individuals are being removed from the nations of the earth and from the nation of Israel respectively, with a view to being positioned in heavenly places during the coming age. Those occupying such positions will sit with Christ on His throne and, in this capacity, rule the nations with a rod of iron, as co-heirs with Christ (cf. Romans 8:17; Revelation 3:21).
The Birthright; The Throne
In Jewish history, the birthright belonged to the firstborn son in a family, simply by right of birth, and consisted of three things:
1) Ruler of the household under and for the father.
2) Priest of the family.
3) The reception of a double portion of all the father’s goods.
Although a firstborn son did nothing whatsoever to come into possession of the birthright, he could conduct his life in such a manner so as to forfeit the birthright. He could not forfeit his position as firstborn in the family, but he could forfeit the rights of the firstborn.
There are two classic examples in the Old Testament of firstborn sons relinquishing the rights of primogeniture (birthright of the firstborn). One is Esau, the firstborn son of Isaac; and the other is Reuben, the firstborn son of Jacob.
Esau considered the birthright of little value and sold his rights as firstborn to his younger brother, Jacob, to satisfy a fleshly gratification (Genesis 25:27-34). Reuben, on the other hand, forfeited his birthright through sexual promiscuity (Genesis 35:22; 49:3, 4). In Esau’s case, the entire birthright was given to Jacob; but in Reuben’s case, the birthright was divided among three of his brothers. The regal portion was given to Judah, the priestly portion was given to Levi, and the double portion of the father’s goods was given to Joseph (to be realized through his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh).
All historic events recorded in the Old Testament occurred within God’s sovereign control of all things “as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (cf. Luke 24:25-27; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).
That is, God, within His sovereignty, brought all these things to pass so that He might have the experiences of various individuals to draw upon in order to teach Christians the deep things of God. Nothing occurred haphazardly, for God does not draw spiritual lessons from haphazard experiences.
The recorded accounts of Esau and Reuben constitute types of firstborn sons forfeiting their birthright; and further, the forfeiture by Esau constitutes the final warning in the book of Hebrews, a warning directed to Christians concerning the possibility that they too can forfeit their birthright.
Every Christian is an heir, as Esau and Reuben; but also, as Esau and Reuben, not every Christian will inherit the rights of the firstborn.
Every Christian is in line to one day, following the adoption, realize the rights belonging to the firstborn. But the fact remains that any Christian can, as Esau and Reuben, forfeit these rights. Any Christian can be overcome during the present dispensation, resulting in his being denied a position on the throne as co-heir with Christ during the coming dispensation.
Co-heirs with Christ are to be “kings and priests” (Revelation 5:10); and they are to realize, with Christ, a double portion of all the Father’s goods. The Father has given all that He has to the Son (Genesis 24:36; 25:5; John 16:15), and the double portion to be possessed by Christ and His co-heirs consists of both spheres of the kingdom (heavenly and earthly). The Father’s house, with respect to the birthright, has to do with a worldwide kingdom ruled from the heavens.
The blessings in store for Christians are heavenly, but these blessings will include an earthly “inheritance” and “possession” as well. Christians, as co-heirs with Christ, will enter into that which has been promised to the Son in connection with His rule over the earth. And God has promised His Son “the nations [Gentiles]” for His inheritance and the “ends of the earth” for His possession (Psalm 2:6, 8; cf. Revelation 2:26, 27).
This earthly inheritance and possession — completely separate from Israel’s earthly blessings and inheritance — is associated with “the kingdom of the world [present world kingdom under Satan]” which will become “the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ [future world kingdom under Christ]” (Revelation 11:15, ASV).
There is an interesting, often overlooked parallel between the five warnings in the book of Hebrews and the seven overcomer’s promises in the book of Revelation. The warnings and the overcomer’s promises both have the same end in view. The last warning has to do with the birthright (Hebrew 12:14-17), and the last overcomer’s promise has to do with the throne (Revelation 3:21).
The successive thought in the warnings in the book of Hebrews is that of Christians ultimately realizing their birthright — sons exercising the rights of primogeniture. The great burden of Hebrews, in this respect, is that of “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrew 2:10).
And the successive thought in the overcomer’s promises in the book of Revelation is that of Christians ultimately ascending the throne — as co-heirs, companions, exercising power with Christ. And the great burden of Revelation chapters two and three, in this respect, is that of placing equipped Christians (as sons, seen in Hebrews) upon the throne with Christ.
Absolute Power and Authority
Christ will rule the nations with “a rod of iron,” and He has promised His co-heirs that they will exercise this power and authority with Him (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:26, 27; 12:5; 19:15).
The words “break them with a rod of iron” rather than “rule them with a rod of iron” (as in Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15) are used in Psalm 2:9. The Hebrew word translated “break” in this passage, contextually, refers to absolute force that will be used to bring and keep the nations under subjection to the “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” A cognate form of this word appears in Daniel 2:40 where, contextually, the word refers to a similar (but not absolute) force that will be used by Antichrist to bring and keep the nations under subjection to him during the Tribulation. The words “broken to pieces” and “break in pieces” in Daniel 2:35, 44, 45 are the translations of a different word though, which, by comparing Psalm 2:1-9, has to do with the absolute, total destruction of the kingdom of Antichrist by Christ at the end of the Tribulation; and this will be followed by Christ’s absolute control over the nations during the succeeding Messianic Era, when the “great mountain” (Christ’s kingdom) fills “the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35).
The Greek word translated “rule” in Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15 means to shepherd. This is the same word translated “feed [lit. shepherd (referring to shepherding the flock of God)]” in Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:2. The thought behind this word when used in the sense of “rule” can possibly best be seen by its use in Matthew 2:6:
But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel. (Matthew 2:6)
The Ruler, in this respect, will be a Shepherd over the nations; and His co-heirs will exhibit like qualities.
However, this shepherding will be accomplished through absolute force. There will be no such thing as a toleration of disobedience among the Gentile nations in that day (cf. Psalm 101:1-8; Isaiah 66:19-24; Zechariah 14:16-21). The shepherding will be carried out by and through the use of authority described as “a rod [scepter] of iron.”
A shepherd in Israel during Old Testament days possessed a wooden staff; but the Chief Shepherd and His co-heirs during that coming day will wield a staff of iron. And with this staff, the Gentile nations, as “the vessels of a potter” when struck, will be “broken to pieces.”
Note that these same words are used relative to both the rule of Christ in Psalm 2:9 and the rule of His co-heirs in Revelation 2:27. The rule by both Christ and His co-heirs will, in this respect, be identical in nature.
Duration of Power and Authority
Scripture teaches that the exercise of governmental power and authority by Christ and His co-heirs will not end when the 1,000-year millennial day has run its course. Rather, the exercise of such power and authority will extend into and last throughout the eternal ages beyond the Millennium. But Scripture does not teach that this rule will continue unchanged into these eternal ages. To the contrary, Scripture teaches just the opposite. The rule by Christ and His co-heirs during the ages beyond the Millennium will be quite different than their rule during the Millennium.
First, there is the matter of Christ’s throne. His throne is eternal, but not as a separate entity from the Father’s throne. Conditions of this nature are millennial only (Hebrew 1:8; Revelation 3:21; 22:3). Christ, with His co-heirs, will reign from His own throne until He has “put down all rule and all authority and power.” Then, when “all things” have been made subject to Christ, the kingdom will be delivered up “to God, even the Father,” with all things made subject to Christ, in order that “God may be all in all [lit., ‘all things in all of these things’]” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). This will occur at the end of the Millennium, and Christ will then assume a position on a central throne with His Father called, “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1, 3).
Second, there is the matter of the location of Christ’s throne. During the Millennium, Christ’s throne will be in the New Jerusalem positioned in the heavens above the present earth. During the eternal ages, “the throne of God and of the Lamb” will, likewise, be in the New Jerusalem; but the location of the New Jerusalem will be quite different. The present heavens and earth will be destroyed at the end of the Millennium, and a new heavens and a new earth will be brought into existence.
The New Jerusalem will rest upon the new earth, and God Himself will reside therein, sitting on a throne, with His Son alongside. A rule from the heavens over the earth (millennial) will be a thing of the past, and “the throne of God and of the Lamb” will become the central point in the heavens of an eternal rule extending throughout the universe (cf. 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1ff).
Third, there is the matter of the manner in which Christ will rule. During the Millennium, Christ and His co-heirs will rule the nations with “a rod of iron”; but a rule after this fashion would be out of place during the eternal ages. During the Millennium, absolute force will be used to bring and keep the nations under subjection; but such will be unnecessary during the eternal ages. Conditions on the new earth will be quite different than millennial conditions on the present earth. There will be no more sin, death, etc. (Revelation 21:3, 4); and this will allow for numerous changes in the manner of the administration of governmental affairs.
Satan will be bound in the abyss during the Millennium, but at the conclusion of the Millennium he will be loosed for “a little season [short time].” The rebellion evident among nations during the Millennium, necessitating the rule with “a rod of iron,” will then be brought to a head. The rebel nations will ally with Satan and under his banner march against Christ and His co-heirs in one final, vain, climactic thrust. The entire matter though will be speedily brought to an end by and through fire “from God out of heaven” (cf. Ezekiel 28:18b, 19).
Satan will then be cast into the lake of fire, the judgment of the unsaved dead from throughout Man’s Day will occur, and the time for major changes will be at hand. At this time the kingdom will be delivered up to the Father, the present heavens and earth will pass out of existence, the new heavens and new earth will come into existence, the new Jerusalem will descend from heaven to rest upon the new earth, and the throne of God and the throne of Christ will become one throne. The nations will then dwell upon the new earth, with God Himself dwelling in their midst.
(God rules from a place in the heavens over the entire universe. Then, provinces throughout His universe are governed by appointed rulers who apparently exercise their delegated power and authority from places in the heavens in relation to the province being ruled [e.g., Satan and his angels presently rule from a place in the heavens in relation to the earth (cf. Daniel 10:13-20; Ephesians 2:2; 6:11, 20], and this structured rule would apparently be the same relative to provinces ruled by angels elsewhere in the universe [i.e., ruled from places in the heavens in relation to the different provinces]. It is in this manner that “the heavens do rule” [beginning with God, the supreme Ruler over all].
During the Messianic Era, Christ and His bride will exercise delegated power and authority over the earth from the same sphere in which Satan and His angels presently rule [cf. Job 16:15; Revelation 12:7-12]. Then, during the eternal ages, the new earth will be the place in the heavens from where universal rule will emanate [in the heavens in relation to the entire universe, as God’s present dwelling place is in the heavens in relation to the entire universe].)
1) Crowns, Rewards — Millennial or Eternal
Promises to Christians concerning crowns, rewards, etc. are to be realized during the millennial age rather than during the eternal ages. Many conditions surrounding proffered positions with Christ will not exist during the eternal ages, as noted in previous comments concerning differences in Christ’s reign during the Millennium and during the ages beyond.
(Note, for example, the overcomer’s promises in Revelation chapters two and three. That these promises are millennial only in nature is made plain by several of the promises.
In the overcomer’s promise to the church in Smyrna, it is evident that death will exist during the Millennium [Revelation 2:11; cf. Romans 8:13]; but this will not be the case beyond the Millennium, during the eternal ages [Revelation 21:4]. In the overcomer’s promise to the church in Thyatira, ruling with “a rod of iron” is in view [2:26-28]. And no such scene as this exists during the present dispensation; nor will such a scene exist during the eternal ages. Then, in the overcomer’s promise to the church in Laodicea, Christ’s throne is in view. Christ is not seated on His own throne today; nor will this throne exist separate from the Father’s throne beyond the Millennium [cf. Hebrew 1:13; Revelation 3:21; 22:3].
Thus, it is plain that the things seen in the overcomer’s promises in these two chapters can be realized during the Millennial Era alone. They can have nothing to do with the eternal ages beyond the Millennium.)
This, however, does not at all teach that the reign of Christ and Christians will end at the conclusion of the Millennium. This only shows that their reign during the eternal ages will be outside the scope of the overcomer’s promises and quite different than their reign during the preceding Millennium.
God’s revelation to man concerns itself with “time” — seven thousand years of time — from the creation of Adam to the end of the Messianic Kingdom. Very little is revealed about that which occurred before the creation of Adam, and very little is revealed about that which will occur beyond the Millennium. Scripture does reveal though that the reign of Christ and Christians will continue, and the length of this continuing reign is specifically stated to be “forever and ever [Greek: eis tous aionas ton aionon, ‘with respect to the ages of the ages,’ i.e., ‘throughout the endless ages’]” (Revelation 11:15; 22:3-5).
The activity of Christ and Christians in this continuing reign is not revealed in so many words, but Scripture does present enough information that several observations can be made:
A) Extent of Christ’s Rule
The rule of Christ itself during the eternal ages will no longer be limited to the earth. Rather, it will extend beyond the earth (the new earth), out into the universe.
Christ will be seated upon a throne from which there will be an administration of power and authority throughout the universe (“the throne of God and of the Lamb” [Revelation 22:3]); and the Christians’ continuing rule “with Christ” (Revelation 22:5) would have to be of a like nature, for the power will no longer emanate from Christ’s throne, but from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In this respect, the rule by Christ and His co-heirs over the earth during the Millennium can only be extended to a rule over worlds throughout the universe following the Millennium.
B) Millennial and Eternal Blessings
To what extent though, if any, will rewards that are realized by overcoming Christians during the Millennium carry over into the eternal ages beyond? The question is really unanswerable.
The wiping away of all tears at the conclusion of the Millennium and the fact that the overcomer’s promises are millennial only in nature would clearly indicate that distinctions that existed during the millennial age between overcoming and non-overcoming Christians will not exist during the eternal ages beyond the Millennium.
But, to take matters beyond this point and say that no rewards exercised by overcoming Christians during the millennial age will extend over into the eternal ages beyond the Millennium (or have any bearing on the place that they will occupy beyond the Millennium) would be carrying matters beyond Scriptural grounds. Scripture simply does not deal with the matter.
2) All Things New
The Millennium will not, as many envision, be a time of perfection. Such a state awaits the first of many ages beyond the Millennium. The restoration of all things will occur before the Millennium, at the end of six thousand years of time; but the making of all things new awaits the completion of the Millennium, at the end of seven thousand years of time (cf. Acts 3:21; Revelation 21:5). Only then will a perfect order in all of God’s creation exist.
As the present age (Man’s Day) has a purpose, so will the millennial age (the Lord’s Day); and the ultimate goal of all will be realized in the ages beyond. The rulers for the millennial age are being acquired during the present age; and during the millennial age these rulers will, as co-heirs with Christ, participate in the age-long work of bringing all things under subjection to Christ. Such a work, brought to pass by and through a rule with “a rod of iron,” anticipates the ages beyond the Millennium, in which a rule with “a rod of iron” will no longer be necessary; and the reason for man’s creation will then be realized in its fullest sense.
Man will not only realize the reason for his creation during the Millennium but also during the eternal ages beyond the Millennium. Dominion will be restricted to this earth during the Millennium, but not so during the eternal ages after the new heavens and new earth have been brought into existence. Man’s rule in that day can only extend into places throughout the universe itself, and man will evidently have access to the universe (something that will not be the case at all during the Millennium). This appears to be the clear teaching derived from Scriptures touching upon the subject.
The emphasis in that which is taught within Christian circles today should revolve primarily around millennial verities rather than eternal. This is where Scripture places the emphasis; and this is where man should likewise place the emphasis. A pastoral ministry, to be completely in phase with Scripture, must, during the present time, center around millennial verities, though not to the exclusion of the eternal.
The entire program of God has, from the beginning, been moving toward the coming Sabbath of rest, paralleling the seventh day in Genesis 2:2, 3. The great prophecies of Scripture speak of this day, Christians are exhorted to fix their attention upon this day, and the judgment seat of Christ precedes and has to do with this day. To ignore the Millennium, one must ignore the central teaching of Scripture, beginning with the book of Genesis and ending with the book of Revelation. And such can ultimately lead to only one thing: disaster in the Christian life.
A trained runner fixes his attention upon the goal; and a trained Christian, in the present race of the faith, will likewise fix his attention upon the goal:
Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified [disapproved (which will occur at the judgment seat, with the Messianic Era in view)].” (1 Corinthians 9:26, 27)