What Kind of Bodies Will Israel Have in the Millennium?

How is it possible that all Israel will be saved and yet people will be going into the millennial reign of Christ without being transformed and having new bodies?

Will all Israel that’s a part of the church be transformed into heavenly bodies?

How will there be people going into the millennium without heavenly bodies?

It doesn’t make sense to me

What makes sense matters, but the first question of paramount concern is what does the text SAY?!

Secondly, what is the evidence for how the biblical writers expected to be understood? Were they correct in how they understood their own prophecies? Or was there a deeper, allegorical meaning that eluded their limited understanding?

Was their interpretation of what Yahweh spoke merely a reflection of a “primitive, nationalistic, time bound” understanding that would someday be replaced by a different interpretation that could not have been understood or recognized by the prophets or their contemporaries? That’s the hermeneutical question in debate.

After establishing the plain person’s plain reading of plain language, we can then begin to look for light as to how certain antinomies (difficulties / paradoxes) can be reconciled WITHOUT violence to the original author’s intention.

The very meaning of the millennium is at stake here. Why should God make such a point of ending the age around the “controversy of Zion”, a conflict that is destined to draw all nations into an insoluble, inescapable dilemma over the Land and people of Israel that sets off the final world conflict? (Isa 34:8; Zech 12:2-3).

It will be a kind of valley of decision designed to test hearts, primarily over the issue of the nature of saving grace and the ‘kind’ of righteousness (not one’s own but the Lord’s alone) that can stand in the judgment.

In other words, why should God be so determined on saving an elect remnant of ethnic Jews (“natural branches”) unless it is to set the wayward nation of an irrevocable divine election forth as the statement and demonstration of His free and sovereign prerogative to change and qualify them for a final and secure inheritance of the Land by predestined grace.

He has set them at the center of the nations, that He might show in them for a thousand years of public demonstration, the power of His ability to choose whom He will, and quicken whom He will (Mt 11:27; Jn 5:21; Ro 9:18) at the “set time” of His choosing (Ps 102:13; 110:3; Isa 30:18; Gal 1:15-16), and thus finally and forever preserve, not only them but each and everyone of their children after them in abiding holiness, never again to depart (Isa 59:20-21; Jer 32:40, et al.).

Why? What’s He out to prove? What’s His point?

The design is to press upon the consciousness of the nations God’s faithfulness to His immutable covenant word that most of the world doesn’t even know exists, as multitudes are even now being preconditioned to despise and dismiss this word by the events that are swiftly hurling us to the time of final reckoning.

That covenant (called synonymously “new” / and “everlasting”) is not fully complete or satisfied (in all its original terms) until there is not a living Jew on the post-tribulation earth that is not born again and preserved in the “everlasting salvation” of the “everlasting righteousness” of Christ throughout the entirety of the millennial interim as an all holy nation, “never again” to depart (Isa 45:17, 25; 59:20-21; 60:21; Jer 31:34; 32:37-41, Dan 9:24, with so many more that could be listed ).

This uniformity of a completely saved and eternally preserved Jewish population at peace in their own, covenanted Land is the goal of the covenant, since only then will the long blinded Jewish nation have their spiritual eyes opened. A coming day when the blind shall see, and those who always before resisted the Spirit opposer shall learn doctrine is promised all throughout Moses and the prophets (compare Deut 29:4 with Deut 4:25-31; 30:1-6; Isa 29:18, 24; Acts 7:51).

Only when, not a mere remnant, but “all” the people are righteous (Isa 60:21; Jer 31:34), with an eternal righteousness not their own (Isa 45:24; 54:17; Jer 23:5-6; Dan 9:24), can they fulfill the covenant conditions and thus keep the Land forever in abiding peace and security.

This will be possible because the tendency to backslide and come back under the curses of the covenant will be forever cured by the everlasting righteousness of the everlasting covenant. No more will the righteous remnant suffer the sins and exile of the larger apostate nation, since all will be preserved in new covenant righteousness forever, “world without end” (Isa 45:17).

It is one thing for God to bring the Jews into the Land, but a radical transformation is required for them to be assured of permanent security in the Land. This is the very thing the everlasting / new covenant guarantees. From this, it is clear to see why the prophets understood that nothing short of a climactic, apocalyptic day of the Lord could ever bring about such a radical and permanent change in the whole of the nation.

More specifically, not all the nation but only the remnant who escaped death in order to arrive at that ultimately transformative day (Ps 102:13; 110:3; Isa 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9; 12:10; 13:8-9; Mt 23:39; Acts 3:21; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7) .

This is why, not only a remnant, but the entirety of the nation must “all” know Him (Jer 31:34; Eze 39:22, 28-29) in order for them to be able to keep the Land forever, as promised in the plain language of the covenant. As I like to say, “in order for the Jews to inherit the Land forever, they must have a righteousness that is forever”.

This righteousness, which is the Lord’s own righteousness alone (Isa 45:24-25; 54:7; Jer 23:5-6), must extend, not only to a remnant, but the whole of the nation and all the children born to them in future generations, lest the tendency to backslide send them back under the curses of the broken covenant.

This “everlasting righteousness”, which is none their own, but the Lord’s alone, is that righteousness that was perfected in the Son and imputed to the believer whose faith is counted for righteousness. This righteousness, once imputed, is invariably made manifest by the gift and fruits of the enlivening Holy Spirit.

Of course, all of this applies now to every true-born believer of this age and the assurance of eternal inheritance in the age to come (both the millennium and the new heavens and earth), but God intended an earthly demonstration of His ability to accomplish this divine, self assigned “mission impossible” here, on this earth with the Jewish people, here, at the scene of the crime, so to speak, in the presence of a helplessly bound enemy (Satan).

It was necessary that this grace be exhibited and put on display by weak, natural jars of clay, supernaturally upheld in holiness by the gift of the Holy Spirit and nothing of human power.

Manifestly, God has set this interim period as the demonstration of His ability, not only “to graft them in again” but to keep them in, forever!. This requires an interim that is a glorious advance on the present age, yet short of the final, ultimate perfection that follows the millennium.

This newly and suddenly saved remnant of penitent survivors (like Paul’s sudden arrest on the Damascus road) will enter the millennium in their natural bodies and be assisted back to their Land by surviving gentiles compare Isa 14:2; 40:22; 60:9; 66:20; Zech 8:23). Manifestly, these survivors from among the nations did not take the mark, but were also not yet born again (not yet “in Christ”) at the time of the last trump, when Jesus was revealed from heaven (Isa 26:12-13 with Mt 24:29-31; 1Cor 15:52).

Many scriptures speak of this sudden salvation of the surviving remnant of penitent Jewish survivors at the Lord’s post-trib return (Ps 102:13; 110:3; Isa 59:17-21; 66:8; Jer 30:6-7; Eze 39:22, 28-29; Zech 3:9; 12:10; Mt 23:39; Acts 3:21; Ro 11:26; with Rev 1:7) with the result that now, an all saved Jewish population will never again backslide and fall back under covenant judgment, but “all”, from the least to the greatest will know the Lord (Isa 59:21; Jer 31:34; 32:40; Eze 37:25; 39:22). THIS is the OT context behind Paul’s statement, “and so all Israel shall be saved”.

This sudden national salvation of a surviving remnant is everywhere shown to take place at the post-tribulational day of the Lord. It’s purpose is the open and public vindication of “My covenant with THEM (natural branches) when I shall (future) take away THEIR (the irrevocably elect and no less beloved enemy’s) sin …”

Several scriptures show very definitely that the time Paul has in view is the post-trib day of the Lord, which the NT obviously equates with Christ’s return. When Jesus arrives in glory, the dead in Christ, together with all those alive in Christ at the time, will be changed in an instant, immediately translated into glorified immortality.

At the same time (“in one day”; Ps 102:13; 110:3; Isa 66:8; Zech 3:9; Eze 39:22; Mt 23:39; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7) ; a surviving remnant of Jews, having just been brought to the end of their power (Deut 32:36; Dan 12:7), “look upon their pierced Messiah”, and immediately go apart to weep in deepest contrition, as when Joseph revealed himself to his estranged brethren (compare Gen. 45 with Mic 5:3-4; Zech 12:10; Mat 23:39; Rev 1:7). After the great purgation of tribulation judgment, the newly saved Jewish remnant (Eze 20:33-40; Amos 9:9-10) goes into the millennium in natural, albeit Spirit filled bodies (Eze 39:22, 28-29).

Now, with it established that the scripture is very clear that a surviving remnant will make up the newly born nation, entering the post-tribulational kingdom in natural bodies, returning by every natural means of transport back to the Land to build and plant, raise families, and witness to the nations, the question is naturally raised, “what will be the relationship of those who enter the millennial kingdom in their natural bodies and those who have been translated at the rapture?”

When taken together, the cumulative evidence of scripture creates what can be called a “necessary inference”. I believe the puzzle is only solved, with due respect to all that the scripture says, by recognizing what I like to call, a “dimensional divide”.

The mystery of the rapture is not a mystery as to its time. That is no mystery (compare Hos 13:14; Isa 25:7-8; 27:12-13; Mt 24:29-31 with 1Cor 15:5-54 ). The mystery has to do with a ‘dimensional divide’ between those who will be putting on resurrected bodies with capacities that are like the angels and like the Lord in His post-resurrection appearances for the purpose of spiritual rule, (as for example, ruling over 5 or 10 cities), but in a realm of existence, not any less on earth, but not immediately visible to saved and unsaved mortals in the millennium (compare Mt 19:28; 22:30; Lk 19:17:18; 1Cor 13:12).

There is so much more that can help clarify and harmonize, but the greatest problem (other than failure to fully depend on the Spirit for the mercy of illumination) is lack of OT literacy on the popular level, and on the scholarly level, the tendency to embrace of a set of a-priori presuppositions that seeks to harmonize the testaments by a radical method of reinterpretation and spiritualization. It’s a great, historic deficiency in the church due to centuries of neglect of the OT and artificial, unsatisfactory solutions that fail to convincingly harmonize the testaments.

Second point implicit in your question is the relationship of the body to national Israel:

To be clear, Israel can only be saved as it becomes the body of Christ by the transforming, regenerating revelation of Christ. If they are alive to God, they are “in Christ”, and thus part of His body sharing in the unity of the Spirit, equally with all saints, whether Jew or Gentile.

1 Corinthians 6:17
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

In the natural order, there is a necessary and crucial distinction between Israel and the church, just as between male and female. But there is no distinction at all in the unity of the one new man, that is all who know the Lord, whether in times past, in this age, or the millennial age to come.

This unity of the Spirit in the God-Man is not a new truth, but an old truth that has come to full light in the revelation of the mystery. (Remember this: something that is newly revealed, or has come to much greater light, does not mean that it did not exist before, just as the revelation of Jesus has brought much clearer light on the triune nature of the Godhead. Yet no one would say that such new revelation created something that did not exist before).

In distinguishable contrast from the one new man of the Spirit, natural Israel and the supernatural preservation of Jewish identity throughout the generations, belongs to a corporate election that does not guarantee the salvation of any individual in the set apart nation. Instead, precisely because of the covenant mandate, belonging to the Jewish race commends the covenant breaker to a “double” discipline, as foretold in scripture and witnessed throughout history.

So when Israel comes to faith on that day, they will be no less the living body of Christ, albeit with a unique and special calling, role, and stewardship to be lived out openly in the presence of the nations throughout the millennium.

Thus, the millennium exists primarily for this open covenant vindication and demonstration of every word and aspect of His everlasting covenant, to be lived out in literal detail before the nations and also the onlooking principalities and powers. This will show show for a thousand years of open, fully visible demonstration that God was indeed able, not only to bring the people He first brought out of Egypt back into the Land, but now, because of an “everlasting righteousness” (namely, the righteousness of the Son), eternally secure to one and all, they will abide, preserved in holiness and peace in the Land, within the originally specified borders of the promise.

We are led then to infer, most necessarily on the basis of 1Cor 15:50-52, that all who come to faith during the millennium, with any who die in the Lord during the millennium, will be raised with their new body at the end of the millennium when the great transition to the new heavens and earth follows the final rebellion.

If that explanation does not fully satisfy every question, it is also to be considered that there is a mystery about time in the realm of the Spirit as it intersects with natural historical time. In any event, lingering questions must not be permitted to impose on the clarity of what the text plainly ‘SAYS’.

May the kind Shepherd, “come alongside”, and cause our hearts to burn within us, as He opens to us the Scriptures.


Filed under
The Millennium, The Rapture, The Resurrection
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