Following the Lord’s coming for His believers, the prophetic program for earth will resume. Once again the “gospel of the kingdom shall be preached” (Mt. 24: 14). The nation of Israel will be restored to Divine favor, for “God hath not cast away His people whom He foreknew” (Ro. 11: 2).
Prophecy reveals that “in the later time…a king of fierce countenance…shall stand up” (Dan. 8: 23), and this man, the “son of perdition”, “opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2: 4). He will make a treaty with the Jews and then break it by setting up “the abomination of desolation…in the Holy Place” (Mt. 24: 15). That event will mark the beginning of the "great tribulation", during which time this “son of perdition” will persecute the Jews. Near the end of this tribulation the Lord Jesus will return to Jerusalem and deliver the Jews from their great enemy (Zech.14). Immediately following the deliverance of the Jews, “the sun will be darkened…and the stars shall fall from heaven” (Mt. 24: 28).
Then after an unspecified time period “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from the sky with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking revenge on them that know not God” (2 Thess.1: 7, 8). This will be a harvest upon the whole earth:
“For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Lk. 21: 35).
The Lord Jesus says,”The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one…The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity…Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mt. 13: 38, 41, 43).
The righteous will remain on the earth and the unrighteous will be taken out:
“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be…Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Mt. 24: 37, 40- 41).
At the very end of this harvest (the Day of the Lord) the believers from all ages (except, of course, those “in Christ” who will have been previously “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air) will be resurrected:
“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6: 40).
Also at this time the Lord will sit on His throne and begin to rule:
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory” (Mt.25:31).
All of these events will usher in the Millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the earth.
The Old Testament Scriptures speak of a time of righteousness and peace upon the whole earth:
“The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious” (Isa. 11: 9-10).
The prophet Zechariah describes this time: “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one…And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zech. 14: 9, 16).
This reign of the Lord Jesus will last one thousand years (Rev. 20: 5), and during this time the kingdom will be populated with men in their mortal bodies and men in resurrected bodies. Peter, James and John were given a foretaste of the kingdom (Mt. 17: 1-8), and there they saw a revelation of the Lord Jesus’ glory when He was transfigured, His face and His garments becoming as white as the light. They also saw Moses and Elijiah talking with the Lord Jesus.
Louis A. Barbieri writes, “Why were Moses and Elijah, of all Old Testament people, present on this occasion? Perhaps these two men and the disciples suggest all the categories of people who will be in Jesus’ coming kingdom. The disciples represent individuals who will be present in physical bodies. Moses represents saved individuals who have died or will die. Elijah represents saved individuals who will not experience death, but will be caught up to heaven above (1 Thes. 4:17). These three groups will be present when Christ institutes His kingdom on earth” (Walvoord & Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary; New Testament, 1983, SP Publications, Inc., p. 59).
The following from the New Scofield Study Bible sums up the principles of the kingdom which will be in place when the Lord Jesus will rule upon the earth and “the Lord shall rejoice in all His works” (Ps. 104: 31):
“The moral characteristics of the kingdom are to be righteousness and peace. The meek, not the proud, will inherit the earth; longevity will be greatly increased; the knowledge of the lord will be universal; beast ferocity will be removed; absolute equity will be enforced; and open sin will be visited with instant judgment…The N.T. (Rev. 20: 1-5) adds a detail of immense significance—the removal of Satan from the scene. It is impossible to conceive to what heights of spiritual, intellectual, and physical perfection humanity will attain in this coming age of righteousness and peace (Ps. 72: 1-10; Isa. 11: 4-9)” (The New Scofield Study Bible, Note at Zech. 12: 8).
Despite all of this the Lord´s benevolent reign will not change the heart of all men. When the thousand years are ended “Satan shall be loosed out of His prison” and will “deceive the nations” (Rev. 20: 8). However, this final rebellion will come to an end with the casting of Satan and his followers into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 19).
After this the Lord Jesus will deliver up the kingdom to God:
“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet…And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15: 24, 25, 28).