Prophecy on Mount Olivet
By Arlen L. Chitwood
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.
You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet. (Psalm 8:3-6)
The Olivet Discourse, in each of its three parts, brings man to that point in history where he realizes the purpose for his existence.
In the Jewish section (Matthew 24:4-39), Israel, passing through the Great Tribulation, is ultimately brought into the position where the nation exercises the rights belonging to the firstborn.
In the Christian section (Matthew 24:40-25:30), the Church, following the adoption, is also brought into the position of God’s firstborn, with Christians exercising the rights of primogeniture.
In the Gentile section (Matthew 25:31-46), Gentiles reached by the ministry of the 144,000 during the Tribulation are brought into a position of inheritance in the kingdom, portending that which will result from the entire Jewish nation carrying God’s message to the Gentile nations of the earth during the Millennium (Genesis 12:2, 3; 22:17, 18; Isaiah 43:7-11).
(As will be seen in the latter part of this concluding chapter, God had far-reaching regal plans for man at the time of his creation, extending beyond the Millennium and the earth out into the universe during the ages beyond.
And Israel reaching the nations of the earth with God’s message during the Millennium will provide untold numbers of individuals from among the Gentiles that will evidently figure prominently into God’s plans and purposes for man beyond the Millennium.
A beginning of the outworking of these plans and purposes is seen through a first-fruit of the nation, the 144,000, reaching Gentiles throughout the world during the Tribulation.
Then, the entire nation carrying God’s message to the Gentiles throughout the world during the Millennium will complete the task.)
Man will ultimately hold the scepter and occupy the throne. He was created for this purpose, and God will not change His mind concerning the reason He called man into existence (Romans 11:29). God’s purpose, as given in the creation account in Genesis (1:26-28), will be realized at the time of Messiah’s return. The incumbent rulers (Satan and his angels) will be put down, and man will be elevated to his rightful position over the earth.
Psalm 8 is Messianic in its scope of fulfillment (though there appears to be a facet of the Psalm that will not be fulfilled until the eternal ages beyond the Millennium, discussed in the latter part of this chapter). This Psalm views man occupying the position for which he was created, something man has never done in the history of his existence (aside from that which might be viewed as a first-fruit in the Old Testament theocracy).
Verses four through six of Psalm 8 are quoted in Hebrews 2:6-8 within a context that leaves no room to question that which is in view. Immediately preceding this quotation, reference is made to an inherited, so great salvation, which will be realized when this earth has been placed in subjection to man rather than angels (1:14-2:5; cf. v. 8b); and immediately following this quotation, reference is made to the ultimate purpose for Calvary — placing redeemed man back in the position for which he was created by and through “bringing many sons to glory” (vv. 9, 10).
Man’s Rule During the Millennium
Man’s rule during the coming age will be confined to this earth. It is this one province in the kingdom of God over which Satan and his angels rule, and it is this same province over which man will one day rule in the stead of angels.
Christ will rule in the stead of Satan, wearing the crown that Satan presently wears; and those ascending the throne and ruling as joint-heirs with Christ will wear crowns presently worn by two classes of angels — fallen and un-fallen, but all originally associated with Satan’s rule (2 Samuel 1:10; 2:11; 5:3-5; Revelation 4:10, 11; 19:12).
1) A Rule Over the Earth
Israel will rule upon the earth at the head of the nations, with Christ seated on David’s throne in the midst of His people.
Christians though, along with certain Old Testament saints and Tribulation martyrs, will rule from the heavens over the earth, exercising power from Christ’s own throne.
In this respect, Christ will have a dual reign; and governmental power and authority will be exercised from both an earthly and a heavenly sphere. Christ will sit on David’s throne in the city of Jerusalem upon the earth, and He will also sit upon His own throne in the New Jerusalem in the heavens above the earth (Luke 1:32, 33; Revelation 3:21).
It will actually be those ruling from the heavens who will ascend the throne and exercise power as joint-heirs with Christ at this time. Israel upon the earth will simply be the ruling nation; and though power and authority will emanate from the two thrones upon which Christ will sit (both David’s throne upon earth and His own throne in the heavens), the individual, joint-heir relationship that will exist in the heavenly realm will not exist in the earthly.
Those comprising the earthly seed of Abraham do not possess the same promise as those comprising the heavenly seed in this respect. Though both are to “possess the gate” of the enemy (rule over the Gentiles) and the Gentile nations are to be blessed through both (Genesis 22:17, 18), only those comprising the heavenly seed will ascend the throne to rule as joint-heirs with Christ.
Satan and his angels presently rule from the heavens over the earth. Satan is the “anointed cherub [messianic angel]” placed over this earth, along with a great host of subordinate angels who rule with him (Ezekiel 28:14; Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:7).
Angels ruling under Satan exercise their power and authority through rulers upon the earth. They possess counterparts in the earthly sphere, through whom they rule. In this respect, there is a gradation of rulers upon the earth that corresponds to a gradation of rulers in the heavens.
During Daniel’s day, following the conquest of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, attention was called to heavenly rulers referred to as “the prince of the kingdom of Persia,” “the kings of Persia,” “the prince of Greece,” and “Michael your prince” (Daniel 10:12, 13, 20, 21).
A messenger had been dispatched from heaven and sent to earth in response to Daniel’s prayer. In order to reach earth, this messenger had to travel through the realm in which Satan and his angels ruled, and he was detained in this realm by the angel in Satan’s kingdom who ruled over Persia — “the prince of the kingdom of Persia.”
Michael came to help, and during this time the messenger remained in this heavenly realm with “the kings of Persia.” These kings were evidently subordinate rulers who exercised power from the heavens with the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” over the Persian kingdom upon earth.
One can only deduct from Daniel 10:12-21 that the gradation of rulers in the earthly kingdom of Persia had a corresponding gradation of rulers in the heavenly kingdom, with the rulers in the heavenly sphere exercising power through those in the earthly sphere. Also the heavenly messenger, while speaking to Daniel, referred to “the prince of Greece” (v. 20), an apparent allusion to the Grecian kingdom (possessing both heavenly and earthly rulers) that would one day rise to a position of power and conquer the Medo-Persian kingdom.
One other interesting piece of information is also given in this chapter of Daniel. “Michael your prince” (v. 21) is a reference to the heavenly ruler over Israel, showing a sharp distinction between Israel and the Gentile nations. Though Israel is a nation among nations upon earth, Israel, with respect to the nation’s calling, is “not reckoning itself among the nations [KJV: ‘shall not be reckoned among the [Gentile] nations’]” (Numbers 23:9).
Israel alone, of all the nations, possesses no ruling angel in Satan’s kingdom. Israel is a special creation in Jacob (Isaiah 43:1), allowing this nation to be recognized after a separate fashion from the Gentile nations. Israel’s prince is Michael, a ruling angel in God’s kingdom who exercises power and authority separate from the power and authority exercised by Satan and his angels.
It is this present angelic rule from the heavens, referred to in Daniel chapter ten, that Christ and His co-heirs will exercise in the stead of angels during the coming age (Hebrews 2:5-10). As it is today, so will it be then: Rulers in the heavenly realm will exercise power through rulers in the earthly realm. There will be earthly rulers throughout the various Gentile nations as well as in Israel. The times of the Gentiles will have ended, and the Gentiles will be subordinate to Israel’s rule upon earth; and rulers in the heavens will exercise power through rulers in both Israel and the Gentile nations on earth.
2) A Rule for the Overcomers
Man’s rule, realizing the purpose for his existence, will begin when the millennial kingdom has been established; and this rule will continue throughout the eternal ages.
Israel and the Gentile nations will continue to exist as separate, distinct entities right on into the eternal ages on the new earth, apparently figuring prominently in God’s government of the new earth; and those ruling as co-heirs with Christ will exercise a type of power and authority that will not end after the Millennium has run its course, but will extend on into the eternal ages as well.
A sharp distinction though must be recognized between the exercise of power and authority during the Millennium and the exercise of power and authority during the eternal ages. Christians who reign with Christ during the Millennium will continue to reign with Christ throughout the eternal ages, but it must be recognized that the overcomer’s promises are strictly millennial in their scope of fulfillment.
Overcomers will be rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ for faithfulness during the present time, with a view to being recompensed during the one thousand years Christ reigns over the earth. In this respect, it is incorrect to refer to rewards as being “eternal,” for they are not. Christians will exercise power after an entirely different fashion from a different throne during the eternal ages.
That the overcomer’s promises are millennial alone in their scope of fulfillment can be demonstrated several ways. And this would be in perfect keeping with the foundational framework of Scripture, set forth at the very beginning — showing everything occurring throughout the six days (foreshadowing the present 6,000 years, Man’s Day) pointing to that which would be realized on the seventh day (foreshadowing the future 1,000-year Sabbath, the Lord’s Day).
Within a positive framework, it can be shown that the overcomer’s promises in Revelation chapters two and three are millennial alone in their scope of fulfillment. And, within a negative framework, it can be shown that the forfeiture of one’s birthright can occur only under conditions that will exist during the Millennium, not beyond.
3) The Overcomer’s Promises
In Revelation 2:26, 27, overcoming Christians have been promised “power over the nations.” They will rule the Gentile nations with “a rod of iron,” and this authoritarian rule is compared to the power that a potter could command over his vessels by shattering them into fragments at will — “. . . They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels.” Such a scene can exist only during the Millennium.
The entire purpose for the Millennium is to bring all things under subjection to Christ at the one place in the universe where sin entered, producing disarray. And a rule such as that described in Revelation 2:26, 27 will occur during this time in order to bring this to pass.
God is going to take one thousand years to allow His Son to reinstitute complete order in that part of the kingdom where disorder occurred. After the Son has accomplished this work, He will deliver “the kingdom to God the Father” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28); and an authoritarian rule with a rod of iron over the nations of the earth will be a thing of the past.
In Revelation 3:21, overcoming Christians have been promised that they will be allowed to sit with Christ on His throne:
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Such a promise could not possibly extend into or be fulfilled during the eternal ages, for Christ will not be seated on a throne fitting the description set forth in Revelation 3:21 during ages beyond the Millennium.
The Son today is seated at His Father’s right hand, on His Father’s throne (though He is exercising the office of High Priest rather than reigning with His Father). During the Millennium the Son will be seated on His own throne as the great King-Priest (He will have terminated His present high priestly ministry, will have left His Father’s throne, and will have assumed the long-awaited, promised position on His own throne).
At the end of the Millennium though, Christ will relinquish this position (for all things will have been brought under subjection) and once again assume a place on the throne with His Father. This throne will be called, “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1, 3), and Christ will then reign with His Father apart from exercising any type of priestly office (there will be no sin following the Millennium and thus no need for a priestly ministry).
Thus, promises such as those in Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21 must be looked upon as millennial in their scope of fulfillment.
4) Forfeiture of One’s Birthright
There are two classic examples in the Old Testament of individuals forfeiting the rights belonging to the firstborn — Esau and Reuben. Esau forfeited his birthright for a single meal (Genesis 25:27-34; 27:1-38), and Reuben forfeited his birthright because of sexual impropriety (Genesis 35:22; 49:3, 4). Esau’s birthright went to his younger brother, Jacob; and Reuben’s birthright was divided among three of his younger brothers — Judah, Levi, and Joseph.
The fifth and last of the five major warnings in the book of Hebrews has to do with the possibility that Christians can, in like manner, forfeit their birthrights, disqualifying them from exercising the rights of primogeniture during the coming age (Hebrews 12:14-17). The account of Esau forfeiting his birthright is set forth as a type, with Esau’s experience foreshadowing that which can also be experienced by Christians.
Esau considered his birthright to be a thing of little value until after the rights belonging to him as firstborn had been forfeited and he awoke to the stark reality of that which had occurred. Then, and only then, did Esau realize the true value of the birthright. Esau, seeking to reverse that which had occurred, tried to get his father to change his mind and bless him also, but to no avail (cf. Genesis 27:38; Hebrews 12:17). The birthright was no longer his and could not be retrieved. As a result, Esau “lifted up his voice and wept” (cf. Genesis 25:34; 27:38).
Esau’s condition and state of mind at this time point to the same condition and state of mind that will exist among Christians who forfeit their birthright. This forfeiture will be revealed at the judgment seat of Christ, and the results of this forfeiture will exist for the duration of the Millennium. The same cry by Christians that Esau voiced will produce the same results. The blessing belonging to the firstborn will have been bestowed upon faithful Christians; and the Father will not, He cannot, change His mind and also bless the unfaithful, else He would violate His own Word.
The results of such a forfeiture though cannot exist beyond the Millennium. All tears will be wiped away at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 21:4 [the reference to all tears being wiped away prior to the Millennium in Revelation 7:17 is only for a select group of individuals realizing an inheritance in the kingdom]), and conditions relating to the forfeiture or non-forfeiture of one’s birthright cannot really apply beyond this point in time.
The wiping away of all tears at the end of the Millennium would portend equality within a realm where equality had not previously existed. It would clearly appear that during the eternal ages distinctions among Christians such as those set forth in the overcomer’s promises or conditions having to do with the forfeiture or non-forfeiture of one’s birthright will no longer exist.
Man’s Rule During the Eternal Ages
At the end of Man’s Day, immediately preceding the beginning of the Millennium, a change in the government of this earth will occur; then, at the end of the Millennium, immediately preceding the beginning of the eternal ages, a change (though of a different nature) in the government of the universe will occur. And man will be actively involved in changes that will occur at both times.
Scripture provides a great deal of information concerning man’s part in the government of the earth during the Millennium. The whole of Scripture, after some fashion, is focused upon this time. When one moves beyond the Millennium though, Scripture provides very little information concerning the exact place that man will then occupy within God’s universal government. There are only several brief statements in Scripture concerning government within the kingdom of God beyond the Millennium. But within these brief statements enough is revealed to clearly show that God has far-reaching plans for man that only begin to unfold during the Millennium.
Viewing that which is revealed in the whole of Scripture concerning the government of the universe within God’s kingdom, a person can be drawn to only one conclusion:
When God created man, there were actually both near and far purposes in view.
The near-purpose had to do with the government of this earth, and the far-purpose had to do with the government of the universe. In this respect, the Millennium is only the beginning of an unending number of ages during which man will exercise power and authority, realizing the purpose for his existence.
During the Millennium, Christ will sit on His own throne and rule over this earth, and others will ascend the throne and rule as co-heirs with Him. And Christ, with His co-heirs, will take one thousand years, ruling with a rod of iron, to effect order out of disorder. Once complete order has been restored, the kingdom will be turned back over to the Father; and numerous changes, having to do with the government of the universe during all the subsequent ages, will resultantly occur (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
When that part of the kingdom previously placed under the Son’s control has been turned back over to the Father, “the Day of the Lord” will end and “the Day of God” will begin. At that time, the present heavens and earth will be destroyed, and a new heavens and a new earth will be brought into existence.
(The “heavens” would refer to that part of the heavens associated with this earth and kingdom, not the galaxy or universe as a whole. Scripture outlining the destruction of both the heavens and the earth [2 Peter 3:10-12] could possibly be brought to pass through God causing our sun to nova. Note that there will no longer be a need for the sun [Revelation 21:22-25].)
After the new heavens and new earth have been brought into existence (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1), God will then change the location of His throne from which He rules the universe. The throne of God today is located in a northernmost point in the universe (Isaiah 14:13), north of this present earth. God’s throne will remain in this place during the Millennium; but during the eternal ages, God’s throne will be located in the New Jerusalem, which will be the capital of the new earth. And not only will God’s throne be in this new locality, but the Son will sit on this throne with His Father. God’s throne, at this time, will specifically be called, “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:3-5; 22:1, 3).
1) God’s Rule Over the Universe
God rules the universe today from His throne in the far reaches of the North, but He will one day rule the universe from His throne in the New Jerusalem. This is a change that will occur at the end of the Millennium and exist from that point throughout the eternal ages.
By and through viewing the overall scope of the kingdom of God in Scripture, there is a clear inference that this earth is only one province among many in the kingdom. God’s rule in this kingdom extends throughout all the galaxies of the universe; and from a Scriptural perspective, innumerable provinces similar to the earth exist elsewhere in the universe, apparently in all the galaxies (Psalm 103:19-22).
Scripture provides a glimpse into this facet of God’s government of the universe in the book of Job. In Job 1:6; 2:1, on two different occasions, the “sons of God” are seen presenting themselves before the Lord, with Satan appearing “among them.” Satan, a son of God appearing “among them,” demonstrates equality with them (all angels are “sons of God” because of a special, individual creative activity of God). Satan was the messianic angel ruling over one province in God’s kingdom (the earth), and the only logical conclusion that could follow is that the other sons of God were messianic angels ruling over other provinces in God’s kingdom (other worlds).
The appearances of these sons of God could only be congresses of these messianic angels, who apparently appeared at regularly scheduled intervals in God’s presence to provide a report relative to their provinces in the kingdom. Such meetings would occur at the “mount of the congregation [‘meeting place in the mount’], on the farthest sides of the north [‘in the utmost parts of the north’]” (Isaiah 14:13).
A “mount” in Scripture signifies a kingdom (Isaiah 2:2-4; Daniel 2:35, 44, 45). The thought from the expression “mount of the congregation” in Isaiah 14:13 would thus be, the meeting place [where the messianic angels assembled] to render a report concerning activity in their province, within God’s kingdom, located in God’s presence at a northernmost point of the universe.
The earth is one of nine planets (a number that astronomers’ have questioned in recent times) revolving around a medium-size star (our sun), and it has been estimated that our own galaxy contains between two to four hundred billion such stars (suns) — some much larger, some much smaller. The distance from the earth to the nearest star outside our solar system is four and one-third light years, and the distance to the farthest star in our galaxy is thousands of light years.
It is one hundred thousand light years across our galaxy and between two million and two and one-half million light years from our galaxy to the nearest neighboring galaxy. Beyond that, man has been able to reach out with telescopes and view stars estimated to be billions of light years removed from this galaxy (a light year is the distance light travels in one year — approximately, six trillion miles).
In the light of God’s government of the universe, as revealed in Scripture, it is interesting to note how present-day astronomers view our own galaxy as they study the heavens through their telescopes. Discoveries during modern times have revealed that there are undoubtedly billions of solar systems in our own galaxy, similar to our solar system (a star [a sun], with revolving planets), with apparently billions of other galaxies existing in the material universe (where solar systems have also been discovered in nearby galaxies). And this whole area of study has become a major field in astronomical research today.
Astronomers cannot actually see these revolving planets. But, through the use of computerized lighting techniques developed in recent years, systematic blockages of light can be detected — blockages of a nature that could only be attributed to planets revolving around stars (suns) — along with an evident gravitational pull exerted by these planets on the stars around which they revolve. Also, information derived through the use of the Hubble telescope in more recent times has provided additional data relating to this discovery.
Any way one views the matter, the vastness of the universe over which God rules is staggering. David could look into the heavens during his day, viewing only a small part of one galaxy (only a minute part is visible to the naked eye [not more than about 2,000 stars can be seen by the naked eye at any one time — approximately 1/500,000th of the total visible in the most powerful telescopes, or between approximately 1/100,000,000th to 1/200,000,000th of the estimated total in this one galaxy alone]), and proclaim,
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.
You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet. (Psalm 8:3-6).
Man today can view the heavens through telescopes, seeing things far beyond what David could see with the naked eye, and do no more than respond with similar thoughts, asking the same question.
David gave the answer to the question, and the answer is still the same today and will remain the same throughout eternity. Man is the one whom God created to have dominion over the works of His hands (v. 6).
2) Man’s Place in God’s Eternal Rule
Psalm 8 could be understood in its ultimate scope in the sense of dominion out in the heavens. Such dominion during the coming age must, of necessity, be confined to the earth; but during the eternal ages, dominion exercised by man will extend into the heavens as well.
It seems apparent that apart from man the earth would be no more than just another province in God’s kingdom, ruled over by a messianic angel. But the creation of man has changed all of this. Man’s creation has offset the scales completely, for, following man’s creation, the earth was revealed to not only be the most significant place in the galaxy but in the entire universe as well.
The reason for all of this is evident. The creation of man is peculiar to this earth, and man was created in God’s image and likeness for the specific purpose of possessing dominion over the works of God’s hands. Dominion throughout the universe is exercised by angels, and angels were not created in God’s image and likeness.
Man was made “a little lower than the angels,” for he was created to possess dominion held by angels, which man did not hold following his creation (nor has man held it to this day). Even Christ appeared on this earth, apart from His Glory, in the same position as man — “a little lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:7, 9).
Such though will change at the beginning of the Millennium and change again after a different fashion at the beginning of the eternal ages. At the beginning of the Millennium, man will replace angels ruling over one province; and man will rule in their stead.
During the eternal ages though, man will not necessarily replace angels in other provinces, as on the province ruled by Satan and his angels (that which awaits Satan and his angels was occasioned by sin, and there is no record or intimation that sin entered any other province in the universe). Man in that day may possibly occupy positions under God over provincial governors. Such a thought would be in perfect keeping with Paul’s question in 1 Corinthians 6:3, “Do you not know that we shall judge [‘rule’ (cf. v. 2)] angels?” Then, again, man might rule new worlds or ungoverned worlds. We’re simply not told.
When God created man after His image and likeness, immediate plans for man had to do with this earth. However, since man will exercise regality with Christ from a throne having to do with the administration of universal government following the Millennium, an entirely new light is cast upon God’s creative activity in the first chapter of Genesis.
God, at the time He created man, had far-reaching plans for His creature, as well as the earth. And these far-reaching plans will be realized only when complete order has been restored in the one province where sin entered, a new earth has been brought into existence, and universal power emanates from the throne of God and of the Lamb in the New Jerusalem, the capital of the new earth.