However, there’s one stopover that will be a rewarding experience, even though it involves a 1000-year wait to go home—without your baggage too.
I’m talking about a stopover to end all stopovers—the millennium in heaven spoken about in the Bible.
It’s a common belief that people will be going to heaven for eternity. However, a little Bible study reveals we’re only there for a mere 1000-year stopover—and I say “only” because that’s not much longer than our great-great-(etc)-grandfather, Methuselah, lived for. After that we arrive back home on earth again. This means the rousing last verse of Amazing Grace really needs to be sung “When we’ve been there 1000 years . . .” to be biblically correct.
But don’t get upset at being returned to earth. I agree the proposition of leaving heaven to end up back on earth initially sounds like you’ve being downgraded from first-class luxury to miserable-class torture. But fear not, the earth is being reinstalled to its original sin-free goodness soon after our return.
What’s this 1000-year stopover all about? Why not just stay here and have the earth renewed at the second coming of Jesus? Or why not stay in heaven for eternity? Why is this stopover so important? Why should I even care if this stopover happens or not? And why does millennium have two n’s? All fair questions.
It turns out the millennium stopover is probably one of the most important 1000 years in the universe’s history! True? Well, you be the judge.
Actually, that’s it. You really are going to be the judge. During the 1000 years we’re going to have all the evidence to judge the lost not among us. In judging the lost, we’ll essentially be judging God and if each decision He made, including who is not in heaven, was justified or not. So the ultimate judgement isn’t really about humans, it’s judging the Judge, the Lord God Almighty, and if He’s as just and loving as He proclaims to be.
But why is it so important to judge God? Shouldn’t we just have faith that He’s right and not ask questions?
I’d like to suggest this: unless we have satisfactory closure of every doubt, every suspicion, every disappointment God had the power to stop but didn’t, then sometime in the future, be it 100 years or 100 gillion years, some being will find a doubt that will fester and grow and then eventually . . . war against God’s motives and authority will break out again. (Hands up, who wants sin 2.0 in the universe?)
Crazy talk? If rebellion happened in a perfect universe once, rebellion can happen again, unless we have clear evidence of the results of turning away from God’s authority and have an ultimate and indisputable demonstration of how much God really does love His creations. Our job in these 1000 years is to compile the case study of sin and God and we’ll have the conclusion as an eternal record, which demonstrates without doubt, God’s perfect love and justice.
I can’t stand the horrors this world now houses, but I understand earth’s relatively short period of turmoiled time has to properly show how repugnant life is when a planet wanders away from God’s way. This is so no-one will ever be able to conclude things weren’t all that bad away from God or that God was too quick to destroy the mutineers. It’s in the millennium we can all sit down, without the master deceiving angel manipulating the facts—as he will be confined to a peopleless earth in this time—and judge who deserves our worship for eternity. Then we can put an end to sin forever.
It’s common to focus on the pleasures of life in heaven that will be inconceivably wonderful. Reuniting with loved ones, meeting new friends and reformed enemies, living with 100 per cent good health, not having a worry in the universe, creamy mashed potato on tap, and being able to converse with our guardian angel and ultimately the one and only Jesus and Lord God Almighty. But I think the most important attribute of our time in heaven will be the opportunity to ask why about everything, and get satisfying and truthful answers.
The why question starts from childhood. Covering science, “why is the sky blue?”, to leadership, “why can’t I have an ice-cream now?”, to more life-impacting questions, “why isn’t daddy coming home?”
The more you live, the more whys stack up in your mind. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is the lying and stealing business “hotshot” getting away with fortunes while the church lady who feeds the homeless struggles to pay rent?
Why did God allow my uncles to be killed in a plane crash? Why is one child born healthy and its sibling have a life of restricted abilities? I suspect you have a list written on your heavy heart too.
And such questions don’t really get any bigger than Why did God create Satan if He knew the pain that would follow—including His Son’s death? If God is all knowing, all powerful and all loving, why does He allow bone cancer, cerebral palsy, rape, murder, tsunamis and bushfires? Why?!
These whys must be answered satisfactorily and it’s only after we are restored to perfection, and have taken a step away from sin and the influence of the tempter, that we can accurately judge God’s actions, or apparent lack of actions as it seems to us now.
At the close of the 1000 years, for a short while, every single human being who ever lived will be alive on the earth and separated into two camps: those who love God and accepted His offer of life, and those who refused God’s offer. Then, after a short but unquenchable hellfire with eternal consequences, the earth will be cleansed of all sin and be made new. From that point we can move forward into eternal peace and joy.
But what if some being in the universe again grows an inkling to question the genuineness of God’s love and authority? There will always be the ability to doubt and ultimately rebel if anyone wants to, because that’s what free will and love is—the ability to choose not to love. However, this time round, all a doubter will need to do after the millennium is sit at the scarred feet of Jesus and listen to the history of earth, and testimonies from its residents, and there will be no doubt as to the strength of God’s love for all. The evidence will be indisputable.
I don’t think the millennium is too far away now. Until then keep your heart singing through life’s sometimes unbearably painful moments because peace and joy are on the way, as are satisfying answers.