Trick Question: How long does the Millennium last?

You would think this would be easy. The word millennium, derived from the Latin mille (one thousand) and annum (year) literally means 1,000 years. We have several scriptures that describe the period known as the Millennium as lasting one thousand years.

D&C 29:11
For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.

D&C 88
101 And these are the rest of the dead; and they live not again until the thousand years are ended, neither again, until the end of the earth.

110 And so on, until the seventh angel shall sound his trump; and he shall stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer; and Satan shall be bound, that old serpent, who is called the devil, and shall not be loosed for the space of a thousand years.

D&C 29:22
And again, verily, verily, I say unto you that when the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season;

That seems pretty straight forward. One thousand years. What’s so tricky about that? Well, how will those one thousand years be measured? We already saw this verse, yet it contains an important clue.

D&C 88:110
And so on, until the seventh angel shall sound his trump; and he shall stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer; and Satan shall be bound, that old serpent, who is called the devil, and shall not be loosed for the space of a thousand years.

This is repeated a few more times in other places.

D&C 84:100
The Lord has redeemed his people; And Satan is bound and time is no longer. The Lord hath gathered all things in one. The Lord hath brought down Zion from above. The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath.

Revelation 10
5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

But the scriptures also uses the 1,000 years reference multiple times:

Revelation 20
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 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.
4 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 worshipped 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.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 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.
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

When time is no more, how do you measure 1,000 years? Why would several prophets talk about this period lasting one thousand years if there is no time?

Alma gives us an important perspective.

Alma 40
8 Now whether there is more than one time appointed for men to rise it mattereth not; for all do not die at once, and this mattereth not; all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.

And we can link this to Peter’s writings.

2 Peter 3
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Time is only measured unto man. And all time is as one day with God. So when Jesus is reigning personally on the earth as our God, time ceases and all is as one day. Time not existing is a tough concept for humans to understand, so I suspect the 1,000 years number was used by God so we could understand it would last a long while, far longer than our normal experience, but that it would also eventually end. At some point Satan will be released and begin to deceive men during the little season before the end. How long will it last? God could say a really long time, but that isn’t very satisfying to most people, so one thousand years works.

Remember a previous post talking about “the eternal world” and how we think that means after the final judgment, but Alma uses it to describe where we go after death? If you are in a place where there is no time, you are in eternity. One second lasts forever, and forever lasts an instant. That is eternity. The Millennium is part of the eternal world. Christ reigns personally upon the earth, and time is only measured unto man, not God.

So what about these Telestials?

D&C 76
86 These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial;

The unrepentant Telestials in this eternal world (the Millennium) do not receive the fulness of God during the Millennium. But as they repent and are raised up after “1,000 years”, they now live on an earth ruled by Christ in person.

D&C 76
111 For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared;
112 And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.

This verse can cause some problems for people. Worlds without end is not used anywhere else in scripture. World without end is used once in the Bible, in Ephesians 3:21. But it doesn’t actually say “world without end” in Greek, but aionos ton aionon, which is literally eon of eons. An eon is a period of time. This isn’t talking about worlds, it’s talking about time. Not infinite time, but rather a long time that will eventually come to an end.

This use of world when we should be using eon happens often in the King James Translation. Remember the parable of the wheat and the tares?

Matthew 13
37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world [aionon – time period]; and the reapers are the angels.
40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world [aionon – time period].

Jesus wasn’t talking about this happening at the end of the world, but at the end of this time period. Here’s another example from Mark 10.

29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world [aionon – time period] to come eternal life.

Go to biblehub.com and search and see just how many times the KJV translators used the word world when they should have been using age/era/eon or some other word denoting a period of time. (Here’s the link of aionos and here’s the link for aionon).

Joseph Smith did use the phrase “worlds without end” in a discourse in Nauvoo and said it meant forever. Unfortunately, this was in the King Follett Discourse in which he also said, “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea.” It might not be wise to trust Joseph’s definition of eternity regarding the sons of perdition when it comes from the exact same talk in which he claims the eternal God isn’t eternal. Just saying.

What does God himself say eternal means?

D&C 19
4 And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless.
5 Wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand.
6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.
10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—
11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment.

God is telling us the eternal punishment doesn’t last forever. He let’s men believe this because it works upon their hearts, I presume to make them fearful enough to be less likely to procrastinate their repentance. God’s punishment is eternal because that’s his name, but it doesn’t last forever.

If God says the Telestials can never come where he is, eon of the eons, it doesn’t mean forever. Just until the end of this special time period. Which time period is that? I think it’s the Millennium, this time period where time doesn’t exist. It’s eternity, because there is no time. But eventually, there will be an end of the torment and the Telestials will be released.

We have some other times where absolute pronouncements are made in scripture, only to be qualified.

Mosiah 3:19
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever…
…unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

D&C 67:11
For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh…
…except quickened by the Spirit of God.

Moses 1:5
Wherefore, no man can behold all my works…
…except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.

In these cases, the Lord makes an absolute statement, then qualifies it. In D&C 76:112, he makes an absolute statement:

but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.

I think between worlds without end not meaning worlds without end but a long period of time, combined with D&C 19 where the Lord teaches that those found on the left hand of God will suffer for a long period of time, but he clarifies that he never said it wouldn’t end, gives us the qualifying clause that should at least make us open to the possibility that what the Lord means is the Telestials, while they remain in their filthy state, will never come where God and Christ dwell. But once they have paid for their sins, that prohibition may no longer exist.

But to argue that “worlds without end” means forever when the only scriptural references we have indicate that it doesn’t mean forever, and to ignore that God says this punishment will end and he intentionally uses wording to make humans think punishment will last longer than it really does, all in favor of a single reference from the King Follett Discourse, seems to be trying harder to support the tradition of our fathers than to grapple with what the scriptures actually say. There is no definitive answer on either side of this question. But I will stack the ambiguity of the scriptures against the certainty of the King Follett Discourse any day.

5 thoughts on “Trick Question: How long does the Millennium last?

  1. Interesting point about the time being no longer. I always read that but I guess never really thought about it fully. I sometimes over literalize stuff like the mountains being nations in Isaiah that you talked about today in the podcast which I also had never thought about. It seems to me the more I study early mormon doctrines and the scriptures, that we have inherited a lot of truth mixed with falsehoods. And that it is very difficult to separate the truth from the falsehoods completely as we see through a glass darkly. This series you have been doing is one of those things which I believe was purposely supposed to be vague and confusing so that we don’t procrastinate the day of our repentance. But in order for God to be perfectly just and perfectly merciful there has to be both a punishment affixed to violations of His law, and there has to be a saviour to pay the price if we will repent. However, because he is more merciful than we seem to believe, He will also offer us as many chances as we need to return to Him even if along the way we must pay the price and suffer as He did, until we learn the hard way that only through belief on His name can we be saved.

    1. In fact, God tells us in D&C 19 that this was to be kept vague for a while:
      21 And I command you that you preach naught but repentance, and show not these things unto the world until it is wisdom in me.
      22 For they cannot bear meat now, but milk they must receive; wherefore, they must not know these things, lest they perish.

      This was given in March 1830. D&C 19 was published in the 1833 Book of Commandments, however verse 21 read:
      21 And I command you that you preach naught but repentance, and show not these things neither speak these things unto the unto the world.

      When it was republished in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, the wording was changed to what we have now. I assume that because it was published during the fullness, it was God’s wisdom that the meat be made known.

  2. It’s quite interesting as the series Watcher is doing uses many of the same scriptures as your series, but drawing different conclusions. So far, Watcher is adhering to the traditional eternal glories while your view is these kingdoms are groupings as determined at the second coming of Christ. If I understand your view, at the end there are really only two states: Eternal Life with God in Heaven or cast out. A question, though, what would be the eternal state of those cast out? Are they annihilated, destroyed? Since the “eternal” and “endless” punishment is not meant as a time but rather that it’s God’s punishment. What then after the final judgement? Where do the vast majority of the souls who have lived on earth end up?

    I don’t take it from your position that most people will be saved in Heaven. Is that correct? Rather, I take it that the Terrestrials will live on earth during the millennium while Christ reigns. They will still have to make a choice during the little season to fully accept Christ or reject Him. Likewise, when the Telestials are returned to earth at the end of the millennium (however long that is!) they will also have to make that choice.

    Ultimately, there is only a choice between being with God or not. There’s no conciliatory prize to end up in a lesser kingdom. That is a starker message then multiple lower eternal kingdoms and one that would encourage us all to repent now and not procrastinate. And the scriptures are pretty clear that many (most) will not choose the right path even though God extends His hand over and over again.

    I like a lot of this timeline and framework. It makes a lot of sense to me. However, there are still some gaping holes that I can’t make sense of. If the Telestials are returning to earth after the millennium, what is the purpose of preaching the gospel to them in the spirit world? Where does baptisms for the dead come into play?

    Wouldn’t they just have to wait until the little season and then make the right choice if they desired? Is there a get-out-of-jail card in the spirit world? If you accept the gospel there and you have an appropriate physical ordinance done on your behalf, do you get to rise during the millennium and take a place with the Terrestrials?

    I also find some of Watcher’s arguments problematic. If we take the scriptures saying no work can be done after this life, then the same problems exist about preaching the gospel to the dead. I’m not convinced that exercising faith unto repentance ISN’T one of the works we are commanded to do. I believe it is. Then follows the baptism and spiritual birth. Those certainly seem possible after we die since the scriptures mention preaching the gospel and baptisms for the dead. I also don’t see the purpose for the little season under the traditional view he follows.

    I think we have glimpses of light to get an idea about what all this means, but further illumination would be really welcome! Until the servants return and we get more light, we have to understand as best we can what God has given to us.

    1. re: the state of those cast out. D&C 19:3-12 opens the door to their “eternal torment” not being forever. Notice the language used in D&C 76:44-46 uses the same eternal language that D&C 19 explains as not lasting forever. Then verse 48 talks about the “width, height, and depth” being unknown to all except those who suffer it. Maybe I’m being too literal, but width, height, and depth are finite terms, those are boundaries or limits. Then the Lord gives us this curiously worded revelation:
      D&C 29:28-30
      Wherefore I will say unto them, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” And now, behold, I say unto you, never at any time have I declared from mine own mouth that they should return, for where I am they cannot come, for they have no power. But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men; and as the words have gone forth out of my mouth even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my Spirit.

      “I never said you can get out of jail” is a different message than “I said you can never get out of jail.” If the Lord has never said that they should return, does that mean that they can never return? We don’t know. And “All my judgments are not given unto man” seems to be the Lord’s way of telling us to mind our own business. All I can say is that here, in D&C 19, and D&C 76 he seems to be choosing his words very carefully, and leaving wiggle room rather than making a definitive, absolute pronouncement.

      I think many of the people who start out the Millennium as Terrestrials will end up on the right hand of God on the last day, otherwise why not end everything at the 2nd Coming and skip the Millennium, Little Season, and Final Judgment. Why have a final judgment if it isn’t going to be any different than the first judgment? I think some of the people who start out as Telestials will wake up like the prodigal son and return to the Father willing to accept any menial position, and the gracious Father will dress them in the finest garments and welcome them home. But, sadly, I think there were be many who choose to follow Satan during the Little Season, even those sanctified ones that started out as Celestials, but like Satan himself, decide to rebel in the presence of God himself and end up on the left hand at the last day. I can’t even guess as to the percentages.

      I agree, there are some unknowns. Jesus said we can’t come out of prison until we’ve paid the utmost farthing. Does that mean everyone has to suffer for the full thousand years regardless of how many sins and how sorry they are? If there is no time during this period and all is a one day, are you like Alma and as soon as you turn to Christ your suffering ends? I don’t know. I suspect we’re not told so we don’t think we can repent as soon as the suffering starts, which is exactly what Alma warns us against.

      Watcher does have some different interpretations on this topic. I’m going to focus on other topics until he has presented his case in full. Once he’s laid out his argument and I’ve had a chance to study it out, I’ll revisit the topic.

  3. I look forward to Watcher’s series as well. There’s a lot of depth to be explored in these scriptures. I am interested when pick up this topic again to see how preaching to the dead and baptisms for the dead fit in – if we have enough scriptures to point us in the right direction.

    Back to the topic of your article, I found it really amazing how the earth would have an 8,000 year / 8 day timespan. It made the Savior truly coming in the meridian of time. When I first read what you wrote it didn’t sit well with me because I felt that symmetry was lost with an eternal millennium.

    However, I chewed on that for a bit, and if we see what God is saying how His time is fungible, it isn’t like time is to us then there’s actually a lot of beauty to the millennium being an undefined amount of time. Whatever that eternity is, we should think of it as like a day to God. So the earth still has 8 days of 1,000 years. It fits with declaring there should be time no more.

    It’s obvious the millennium is the Sabbath of the 8 days of earth’s time. The Sabbath is the Lord’s day. And the millennium day will track time according to the Lord. It really fits wonderfully. It should also encourage all of us to avoid spending that day outside of God’s reign on earth!

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