What Adventists Believe About the Millennium and the End of Sin

As most Christians, Seventh-day Adventists hope for the time when the plague of sin and evil will be no more. This post will cover what the Bible teaches on how God will finally dispose of sin at the end of the Millennium.

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Before getting into the topic, take a look at the official statement of the Adventist Church about the Millennium:

“The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections.

During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels.

At its close, Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth.

The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever.”

What Does the Bible Say About the Millennium?

The Bible mentions the Millennium as a thousand year period after the second coming of Jesus.

You may have heard Christians talk about “The Millennium” in the context of the last days and the return of Jesus.

All sorts of websites, movies, and books over the years discuss it—even though they often say different things regarding what it is, where it takes place, and what happens during that time!

Adventists believe what the Bible says about the Millennium. It’s a thousand-year period between the first and second resurrections.

But despite common use of the term “Millennium,” which means “a thousand years,” the word itself never appears in the Bible.

Dragon is wroth with the woman, the church & went to make war with the remnant of her seed in Revelation 12:17Instead, it is derived from the book of Revelation, which depicts a thousand-year, or a millennial, period of time. It’s found in the following six verses:

“And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:2, NKJV).

“And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Revelation 20:3, NKJV).

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4, NKJV).

“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection” (Revelation 20:5, NKJV).

“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6, NKJV).

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison” (Revelation 20:7, NKJV).

To help interpret these, it helps to determine when this 1000-year period takes place. It also helps us understand the meaning of this event.

When Will the Millennium Take Place?

Light piercing through thick clouds, during the glorious event of Christ's Second Coming when the dead in Christ rise firstAdventists believe that the Millennium will be after the Second Coming of Jesus, between the first and second resurrections.

The Second Coming is one of the most crucial Biblical teachings. The Bible talks about this promise over and over again.

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17, ESV).

“Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13, ESV).

(See also Colossians 3:4; Matthew 24:42; Acts 1:10-11.)

One of the reasons the Second Coming is so important is because when Jesus returns, all who have died as followers of Christ will be resurrected.

When Jesus returns, “the dead in Christ,” that is, those who have accepted His sacrificial death on the Cross, will rise from death and live forever with Jesus.

“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

 

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:51-54, ESV).

This is the resurrection that happens when Christ returns, referred to as the “first resurrection.” It is described in Revelation.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands.

And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.

 

This is the first resurrection.

 

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-7, NKJV, emphasis added).

First, the words for “souls” (sometimes translated as “life) is not referring to a spirit separated from a body. This is apparent because these “souls” appear in the context of “the first resurrection.”

These “blessed and holy” ones have already been part of this first resurrection—the resurrection that happens at the Second Coming of Jesus.

These resurrected believers will then have new, resurrected bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-44); they are not disembodied spirits floating around heaven.

Next, after being raised in the first resurrection, they shall “be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6, NKJV).

Though some of them had been martyred, they are now resurrected.

We read that they “lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4, NKJV).

After being resurrected, these people are twice shown as reigning with Christ for a thousand years, or for the Millennium.

This helps clarify that the millennium occurs after the Second Coming of Jesus, when His faithful followers through the ages have been resurrected. And before the second resurrection.

Where does the Millennium Take Place?

Mansion, as Jesus said in John 14:2-4 "In My Father's house, are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you…"For the righteous, the Millennium will take place in heaven where they’ll be with God, Jesus, and the angels.

Meanwhile, all the unrighteous will be dead lying in their graves the whole of the one thousand years.

And Satan and his evil spirits will be bound on earth.

The Bible says that when Christ returns, the righteous dead, and those who are alive to see Him return, will be taken into the air.

“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17, NKJV).

This is the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus had made when He said:

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-4, NKJV).

They will be living and reigning with Christ in heaven, in the place where He had promised to take them after He returned.

In fact, Revelation 20:4, which introduces the resurrected ones reigning with Christ, also talks about “thrones.”

This is a word in Revelation that with rare exception, is always located in heaven and not on earth (See Revelation 1:4; 4:2; 4:4; 7:15; 17; 11:6; 12:5; 14:5; 19:4, 5; 20:11; 21:5; 22:1, 3).

Adventist theologian John Webster notes:

“Instead of Christ reigning with the saints on their earth, we have the saints reigning with Christ in heaven” 1

So far then, we can see two things regarding the Millennium.

First: it comes after Christ returns and resurrects the dead.

Second, the Millennium, the thousand years in which the saints will reign with Christ, unfolds in heaven.

What Happens to the Dead who are Not Resurrected at Christ’s Return?

Tombstone as Bible says that wicked dead sleep in the grave, awaiting future judgment at the resurrection of condemnationThey will remain in their graves until the end of the Millennium.

Nothing happens to them. They remain in the earth, still in the unconscious sleep of death.

Their turn to be resurrected comes later.

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:5, NKJV).

This is what the Bible calls “the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:29).

They are resurrected at the end of the Millennium.

What Happens to the Lost who are Alive at Christ’s Return?

They will die at the Second Coming.

“And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:21, NKJV).

Talking about His return, Jesus compared it to Sodom and Gomorrah, the two wicked cities that were destroyed by fire and brimstone from God.

“Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground” (Genesis 19:24-25, NKJV).

What does that have to do with Christ’s return?

Jesus Himself says:

“But on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:29, NKJV).

Destroyed them all? And this is how it will be when Jesus comes back?

As we have already seen, the faithful are taken to heaven at Christ’s return. It means that this frightful imagery must apply only to the living lost when He returns.

Though Christ’s return is good news for the saved, when the “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” comes back, the lost will be killed (Revelation 19:16, NKJV).

The imagery is stark.

Angel calls the birds in Revelation 19:17, 18; 21 to Come & gather together for the supper of the great God…We read that an angel says to the birds:

“Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great” (Revelation 19: 17, 18; 21, NKJV).

After Christ’s return, the earth will lie empty of human life.

“For behold, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain” (Isaiah 26:21, NKJV).

In other words, while the saved are in heaven with Jesus for the thousand years, the lost of all ages, including those killed at Christ’s return, remain dead on the earth.

The prophet Jeremiah, looking ahead to this time, depicted it like this.

“I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light.
I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth. I beheld, and indeed there was no man” (Jeremiah 4:23-25, NKJV).

The phrase “without form and void,” tohu vbohu, is the same phrase used in Genesis 1:2 describing the earth as it was before the Lord started the six-day creation of life on earth.

It’s as if the earth will revert to the chaos and lifelessness that existed here before the six- day creation.

What Else Happens During the Millennium?

Chaos & lifelessness of the earth, a desolate & dead planet, during the millennium when satan is bound on the earthBesides talking about the saints in heaven, some verses in Revelation 20 talk about Satan.

What happens to him?

“And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Revelation 20: 2, 3, NKJV).

 

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison” (Revelation 20:7, NKJV).

Thus, for the thousand years that the saints are in heaven with Christ, and while the dead are dead in the earth, Satan is “shut up,” “bound,” and “cast into the bottomless pit.”

What does all this mean?

First, the phrase translated “bottomless pit,” in Revelation 20: 3, comes from a Greek word meaning “abyss.”

This is the same word used in a Greek translation of Genesis 1:2, which referred to darkness upon the face of the earth.

We see another reference to the chaos and lifelessness of the earth before the six-day creation of life here.

Thus, for the Millennium, Satan is bound on the earth.

At this time, it’s a desolate and dead planet with no other human life. A planet already ravaged by end-time plagues (Revelation 15-16), by a giant earthquake (Revelation 16:18) as well as the devastation that occurs when Christ returns.

That’s why Revelation 20:3 says that during this time, Satan can no longer “deceive the nations” because all the nations are gone.

He is bound by a chain of circumstances to the earth for a thousand years.

Thus, during the Millennium:

  • The saved are with Jesus in heaven
  • The lost dead are asleep in the ground or in their graves
  • Satan remains bound on a desolate and empty earth with no one else to deceive.

What will the Saved be Doing in Heaven During the Millennium?

As we have already seen, the book of Revelation says that the saved in heaven “lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4, NKJV).

And “they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6, NKJV).

Twice the texts said that they shall reign with Christ.

Reign over whom? The dead are all dead, and Satan is bound to the earth.

However, notice what else Revelation says about them:

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them” (Revelation 20:4, NKJV).

We can also take into account what Paul explains:

“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2, 3, NKJV; see also 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).

Books as millennial judgment provides an opportunity for those in heaven to look into God's dealings with those who are lostIn other places, we are told that now we “see through a glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NKJV). And we have been told not to judge others (Matthew 7:1-5)—and rightly so.

So why would humans be involved in any sort of judgment proceedings?

We know so little about others, their circumstances, and the things in their lives that cause them to do what they do and to be who they are. No wonder, we shouldn’t judge others now.

But this text isn’t referring to our lives as it is now.

The Bible here is talking about God’s people, saved in heaven, and having a thousand years to get their questions answered about so many of the things that have happened on earth that we don’t understand now.

Imagine that you’re in heaven with God. You’re taking in the absolute joy and glory of God, wrapping your renewed mind around the concept of eternity. And you realize that while you’re there, someone whom you loved and expected to be there isn’t. How would you feel? Wouldn’t you have a million questions?

While the “lost” dead continue to sleep in their graves, the Millennial judgement provides an opportunity to look into God’s dealings with them. God will take us all with Him through the judgment process, providing an insider look at the decisions they’ve made throughout their lives.

Eventually, we’ll be able to draw our own conclusion that God has been loving and just in all His ways. He has respected free will. Those not in heaven will indeed have opted not to be there.

That’s what Paul was referring to when he said, “then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NKJV).

“To lay to rest forever any occasion for such doubts—and to ensure that sin will not rise again—God will provide these answers during this review phase of the millennial judgment.” 2

Only then can the saints in heaven shout,

“Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested” (Revelation 15:3, 4, NKJV).

Also,

“Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments” (Revelation 16:7, NKJV).

And only then, after they see just how true and righteous are His judgments, are the lost ultimately punished.

What Happens to the Lost at the End of the Millennium?

Empty tomb of Jesus Christ as He gives us power to live new life, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:15 "we are new creation"The big event following the Millennium will be the resurrection of the wicked dead in the “second resurrection.” God will judge them, then ultimately destroy them by fire, together with Satan and his evil angels.

First, Satan (who had been bound up until the end of the Millennium) will have his situation change for a while.

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison” (Revelation 20:7, NKJV).

Then the unrighteous will be resurrected.

“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:5, NKJV).

So, the unsaved dead are raised at the end of the Millennium, the “resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28) at the same time Satan is released from his captivity.

“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:7, 8, NKJV).

Revelation said that Satan would “deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:3).

As we saw, there was no one left for him to deceive during the millennium. But after the Millennium has ended, the lost are resurrected and Satan is released from his prison.

So he gets back to his work of deception and convinces the newly-resurrected wicked to attack the New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven (Revelation 12:2).

And “the nations which are in the four corners of the earth”—all the resurrected lost—are gathered to battle.

“They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city” (Revelation 20:9, NKJV).

What Happens to the Lost at the End of the Millennium?

Fire as devil was cast into the lake of fire & brimstone where the beast & the false prophet are (Revelation 20:9-10)They are all judged and then destroyed.

“They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them” (Revelation 20:9, NKJV).

Fire comes down and devours them.

But notice what else the Bible says about these events:

“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. . .. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books….And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20: 12-14, NKJV).

There is a just and fair judgment of these people. They’re judged according to their works!

That might sound backwards, since salvation is given by faith. But think about it this way:

Having rejected what Christ has done for them, that He died in their place and took on humanity’s punishment, they now face the justice that they have long deserved. Christ’s sacrifice does not cover their punishment, because they did not accept it. So they are judged by their works.

For those of us who have struggled with all the evil that goes unpunished in this world now, we can be comforted that there will be justice.

Evil will be punished, with what is known as “the second death,” (Revelation 2:11; 20: 6, 14; 21:8).

What is the Second Death? Does God torment the lost in hell eternally?

Bible describes God's love in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...No, He doesn’t. Instead, He destroys them completely.

“And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them” (Revelation 20:9).

The lost will be forever separated from God and will die an eternal death.

John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (NKJV).

The contrast here is not between two forms of eternal life, one in heaven and one in hell. It’s between eternal life and eternal death. Rather, it’s between having eternal life and perishing.

And perishing here means to be completely destroyed. The lost are devoured by the fire.

“These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9, NKJV).

It is the destruction that is everlasting, not the act itself of destroying.

The Psalmist says that the lost will be devoured until “the wicked shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:9, NKJV).

Paul warned about those “whose end is destruction” (Philippians 3:19, NKJV).

Jesus Himself said to fear Him who can “destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28, NKJV).

Jesus also warned that “these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46, NKJV).

The punishment, which is the “the second death” (Revelation 2:11; 20: 6, 14; 21:8), is eternal.

It’s the result that is eternal, not the process.

So at the end of the Millennium, after the saved had a thousand years in heaven to judge and to reign with Christ, Satan and his followers are devoured, completely destroyed.

And the same fires that destroy them will cleanse the earth once and for all of sin and all the vestiges of it.

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10, NKJV).

The end of sin, death and evil

Man kneeling in prayer at seashore as he seeks to have relationship with Jesus & walk in obedience to His will by Holy SpiritJesus came to earth, lived a human life, and died a terrible death. Through this He offered us eternal life in a new world, just like it was before sin.

If we reject His offer, we will return to the nothingness and non-existence, from which we first came.

But eternal life in the “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” can be ours if we choose Jesus (2 Peter 3:13).

So the Millennium will be a time when the righteous will be with God in Heaven. They’ll be set free from this world of evil and sin. And at the end of the millennium, God will judge the sinners and destroy them in the lake of fire, along with Satan and his angels.

Thus, God will bring an end to all sin.

And the end of sin will also mark the end of all evil in the world, together with all the pain and suffering it causes.

Finally, perfect justice will be done for all the injustices that have plagued our world through the millenia.

And the best news of all is that this is what God wants for us! He wants us to choose Him, not to be forced to follow Him. He wants to give us eternal bliss in the perfect earth He intended for us.

All we need to do is make the conscious choice for Christ. We decide to begin and continue the process of fostering a relationship with Jesus, walking in obedience to His will by the help of His Spirit. This way, we can be assured of being part of the first resurrection, and therefore enjoy eternal life with God forever!

[Want to learn how to develop a relationship with God even today?]

[1] Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, p. 930
[2] Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, p. 407

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