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Eschatology: The Millennium
Ellen White's eschatology was most definitely pre-millennial. She believed in a millennium
composed of a literal 1000 years, immediately preceded by a literal second coming of Christ.
However, her view of what takes place during the millennium was somewhat different from that
of many evangelicals. She did not believe that the lost would get a second chance during
a millennium of peace on earth. Rather, she believed that the earth would be
completely desolate, entirely devoid of human and animal life, following Christ's
glorious return and the rapture of the saints.
Indeed, a number of Bible passages suggest just such a scenario:
I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no
light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.
I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof
were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger. (Jer. 4:23-26)
Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down
. . . . The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD
hath spoken this word. (Is. 24:1-3)
Thus, the earth during the millennium will be in a desolate condition similar to what it was
at the beginning of Creation week. (Interestingly, the Greek word in Revelation 20 translated
"bottomless pit," abussos, is the same Greek word used in the Septuagint for "deep"
in Genesis 1:2, which suggests that the earth itself is the bottomless pit.)
Revelation connects just such desolation with the second coming:
And there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so
mighty an earthquake, and so great. . . . and the cities of the nations fell:
. . . . And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a
talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof
was exceeding great. (Rev. 20:18-21)
Since the earth's crust is thus described as disintegrating, the earth would have to be
recreated in order to be inhabitable the day after Christ returns. But most Christians
agree that the earth is not recreated until after the millennium. That leaves us with the
conclusion that the earth will not be able to support life the day after Christ returns.
In Ellen White's view, the redeemed spend the millennium in heaven while all the wicked
remain in their graves. This idea might explain why none of those slain at the
second coming get buried, since there isn't anyone around to conduct their funerals:
And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the
other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they
shall be dung upon the ground. (Jer. 25:33)
That all the wicked do remain in their graves is certain:
I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God
. . . and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the
dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
(Rev. 20:4, 5)
So the righteous dead, some of whom had lost their heads, come to life in the first
resurrection, but the rest of the dead, the wicked dead, rest in their graves until the
1000 years are finished.
And down here on planet earth Satan will be confined to earth, left here to contemplate
the fruit of his rebellion. As Ellen White put it:
Here is to be the home of Satan with his evil angels for a thousand years. Here
he will be confined, to wander up and down over the broken surface of the earth
and see the effects of his rebellion against God's law. For a thousand years he
can enjoy the fruit of the curse which he has caused. Limited alone to the earth,
he will not have the privilege of ranging to other planets, to tempt and annoy
those who have not fallen. During this time, Satan suffers extremely. . . .
[H]e is then to be deprived of his power, and left to reflect upon the part
which he has acted since his fall, and to look forward with trembling and terror
to the dreadful future, when he must suffer for all the evil that he has done
and be punished for all the sins that he has caused to be
committed.—Early Writings, p. 290.
So what will the redeemed be doing during the 1000 years?
After the saints are changed to immortality and caught up together with Jesus,
. . . Jesus and the saints sit in judgment. The books are opened—the book
of life and the book of death. The book of life contains the good deeds of the saints;
and the book of death contains the evil deeds of the wicked. These books are compared
with the statute book, the Bible, and according to that men are judged. The saints, in
unison with Jesus, pass their judgment upon the wicked dead. "Behold ye," said the angel,
"the saints, in unison with Jesus, sit in judgment, and mete out to the wicked according
to the deeds done in the body, and that which they must receive at the execution of the
judgment is set off against their names." This, I saw, was the work of the saints with
Jesus through the one thousand years in the Holy City before it descends to the
earth.—Early Writings, pp. 52, 53.
This judgment, committed into the hands of the redeemed (Rev. 20:4-6; 1 Cor. 6:3), does not
decide who is saved and who is lost. That verdict has obviously already been rendered.
Rather, this is the "sentencing hearing" to determine who will receive many stripes
and who will receive few (Luke 12:47, 48).
Then at the close of the one thousand years, Jesus, with the angels and all the saints, leaves
the Holy City, and while He is descending to the earth with them, the wicked dead are raised,
and then the very men that "pierced Him," being raised, will see Him afar off in all His glory,
the angels and saints with Him, and will wail because of Him. . . . It is at
the close of the
one thousand years that Jesus stands upon the Mount of Olives, and the mount parts asunder
and becomes a mighty plain. Those who flee at that time are the wicked, who have just been
Then the Holy City comes down and settles on the plain. Satan then imbues the wicked with
his spirit. He flatters them that the army in the city is small, and that his army
is large, and that they can overcome the saints and take the
city. . . .
Then the wicked saw what they had lost; and fire was breathed from God upon them
and consumed them. This was the execution of the judgment. The wicked then
received according as the saints, in unison with Jesus, had meted out to them
during the one thousand years. The same fire from God that consumed the wicked
purified the whole earth.—Early Writings, pp. 53, 54.
Thus, the redeemed return to earth after the millennium and the unsaved are destroyed,
Then the earth is recreated, and Jesus reigns forever in the New
Jerusalem upon earth, the new capital of God's universe.
Give Us Your Opinion
|What do you think about Ellen White's beliefs on the millennium?