For all of us seeking the Kingdom of God and awaiting the return of Jesus Christ, the lives of the faithful who have gone before us contain valuable lessons. The book of Hebrews communicates one such lesson in its description of Abraham, saying that “he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). The record tells us that he and Sarah could have chosen to return to the land from which God had called them, but their minds did not dwell on that place (vv. 15–16). They focused on the new world to come—tomorrow’s world. They embraced that world and declared that they were no more than strangers and pilgrims in this one (v. 13).
Hebrews tells us that one of the reasons these individuals lived the sort of lives they did—lives that have made them heroes of faith to all of us—was that clear vision of the world God would bring. Tomorrow’s world was, in a way, more real to them than today’s. They had vision, and that vision emboldened and focused their faith.
The Feast of Tabernacles offers each of us a unique opportunity to sharpen that vision in our own lives. For a solid week, we will all focus together on the coming reign of Jesus Christ and the thousand years of peace He will bring to this troubled world. Together, we’ll strive to see that Millennium more clearly than we ever have before, seeking to be able to return to our homes after the Feast with our faith not simply renewed, but intensified.
Helping all of us to see the coming Millennium more clearly is what this article is about.
Over the years, I have found it a helpful personal exercise to engage my imagination and meditate about what that world might be like. God has given us imagination, and to what better use can we put it than to meditate on His inspired word—the prophecies of the thousand-year reign to come—and imagine just what sort of world our Creator is calling us to help Him build during that time?
With that in mind, the remainder of this article is devoted to three fictional “letters from the Millennium” that are meant to help you visualize that time to come—to make it more real. I ask you to imagine with me that each one is written by someone in the future, someone living life during the Millennium after Christ has returned. Obviously, such a scenario requires that the letters be fictional (unless someone has a time machine lying around) and speculative to a certain degree, but they can still be rooted in things we know from God’s word.
For instance, we know that early in the Millennium, Jesus Christ will call for Israelites, scattered all over the world in their captivity, to come live in the Holy Land—an event we have often called the “second exodus” (e.g., Jeremiah 23:7–8). We also know that many others will come to learn and serve there (e.g., Isaiah 60:9–10). We know that a new Temple will be built in Jerusalem, and that Jesus Christ will call that Temple “the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet” (Ezekiel 43:7). We know that some nations may at first refuse to come under Jesus’ authority and will suffer the consequences (Zechariah 14:16–19). And we know that the glorified members of the God Family will interact with those living during the Millennium, guiding, aiding, and teaching them (Isaiah 30:20–21).
It is in the spirit of these passages and others that these “letters” have been created. While we know that these are nothing more than fictionalized accounts, the good news is that the actual rule of Jesus Christ and the saints on the earth can only be better than we can imagine! So, take these “letters” for what they are: practice at seeing through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12, KJV) and an attempt to help us make much more real in our minds the coming reign of the One who will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Letter 1: New Lives in Jerusalem
Hello, everyone! My name is Brian, and I’m writing to you from the Millennium to tell you part of my story—specifically about my early experiences after the Return.
In what feels like a previous life, I was a heroin junkie in Detroit. What a shock it was to learn that I was actually an Israelite of the tribe of Manasseh!
I remember riding one of the first ships from Tarshish—the nation I called “Spain” before the Return—taking previously captive Israelites from the nations where we had been scattered to our new homeland in Israel. It all seemed so unreal in so many ways, yet the events of the years leading up to that trip had taught me that just about anything was possible. While on the way, I became friends with one of the sailors of the ship—a young Spanish man from Alicante named Santiago—and with another passenger named Simon.
When we arrived on the shores of the land of Israel, it was clear that there was a lot of work going on. Though the reign of Jesus Christ and the saints had only just begun, the work of rebuilding and beautifying Israel, and especially Jerusalem, was already well underway. Santiago was going to stay as a representative of his nation, working under Israelites, helping with the construction, and learning everything he could of this new way of life so that he could later take it back to his own country. I learned that I, too, would become a part of the construction crew, working in masonry and stonework in Jerusalem. Simon got the shock of his life when he learned that he was of Levitical heritage! He was told that his last name, Cohen, was derived from the Hebrew word for priest, and that he was of the line of Zadok. While I was shaping and moving limestone, he would be in training as a Levite, preparing to serve in the new Temple that was being erected. Members of the Levitical family of Zadok were going to serve under the divine direction of the Children of God, who themselves serve as both Kings and Priests under Christ in the order of Melchizedek.
I began to love my work, and to find a deep satisfaction in what I do. In the past, I had wasted so many years thinking of little more than feeding the endless, ravenous cravings that were consuming me. Now, the only vestiges of that life are the needle tracks I still bear on my arms—arms that have found new life and purpose in shaping and moving the stones that will become the new Temple and the headquarters of Jesus Christ on Earth.
Santiago, who worked on my crew under my direction, had a remarkable experience one day. One of the Children of God descended toward us while we were shaping a new building stone and called to us in a voice that demanded attention. “Santiago,” he said, “I would speak with you.” We could hardly look at him for his brightness as he descended in glory. But by the time he arrived beside us, he appeared as he had looked in his physical life before his transformation—and once he did, Santiago was shocked to see that this Child of God was, himself, a Spaniard. He explained to all of us that years ago, before the return of Christ, he had been traveling through Tierra del Fuego, at the southernmost tip of South America, and had heard an amazing radio broadcast from a small, nearby radio station, declaring in the Spanish language wonderful things about “Tomorrow’s World.” He said it had been the beginning of a new life for him, and it was that life that he wanted to share with Santiago. He let me know that he was going to borrow Santiago for a while, and I saw the two of them strolling the Temple grounds, talking for hours, Santiago listening excitedly and sometimes tearfully. Once the Child of God left and Santiago returned, we finished our work for the day. I did not ask him what they had discussed, as I felt it may have been private, but I could see it in his eyes: The hope that our new King holds out for all of us became that much more real to him that day—and it did for me, as well.
As I wrap up this letter, I’ll note that I am ending my day like I always do. I am sitting under my fig tree as Simon, the “new” Levite, leaves after the end-of-the-day chat that has become our tradition. Every day before dinner, we tell each other about our day and what we learned. I lovingly call him a Levite Nerd, he lovingly calls me a Stone Jockey, and we part ways until the next evening. I look to my left, and there is my two-year-old, chasing after a couple of bear cubs as the mother bear looks on, unconcerned. I look to my right and see my wife, watching our child along with me and just as unconcerned—every bit as lovely as the day I met her here in Jerusalem.
During my years in the gutters of Detroit, I never would have imagined that a life like this was possible. Now I sit under my own tree, outside my own home, laughing as I watch my own child playing, and holding hands with my own wife—all thanks to the One who descended upon the Mount of Olives and made me His own.
Letter 2: Changing Hearts and Minds
Hello! My name is Rana, and I am a 17-year-old Egyptian girl. I’m writing you from very early in the Millennium about an incident that occurred earlier this year when I was still 16.
At the time of Jesus’ return, no country in the world had more unexploded landmines than my own nation of Egypt—the terrible remnants of our many wars. While I did not step on one myself, as a very small child I was close to one that went off in the part of the desert the locals called “The Devil’s Garden.” That explosion virtually shredded the lower half of my body, leaving me unable to walk, unable to ever have children, and in constant pain. The never-ending pain of my body, mangled and covered in scar tissue, defined my life from my earliest memories. Since I was my parents’ only child, much of their time and effort was focused on caring for me.
After the return of Jesus Christ, my father was one of the few in our country who wanted to attend the first Feast of Tabernacles at Jerusalem, but he was unable to persuade many others. Consequently, our nation saw not a single drop of rain in the months that followed. The resulting drought began to affect the will of a few of our stubborn leaders, but even after several months, many others remained determined to see the drought through and maintain their resistance.
My father, Youssef, became more vocal as the weeks went by, explaining to the elders and others that we should embrace the God in Jerusalem as our own, that our pride was a shameful sin. The backlash against him and our family was terrible.
One particular day, I remember sitting on the ground against the wall of our small home, where my father would frequently place me so that I could watch the faces of people in the street. I often dreamed of the simple pleasure of being able to walk the streets of my hometown, and seeing the faces of those walking by as they went from place to place brought me a small measure of comfort as I imagined myself being able to walk beside them.
But there was no comfort in the faces I saw that day. Tired of my father’s preaching about our rebellion, the crowd gathered against us, and before he could carry me inside, they began pelting us with rocks and stones, accusing us of abandoning our heritage for the sake of “some Jewish God” and of weakening the nation during its great trial. I had never seen faces so angry and so bitter, and I was terrified as their stones struck the wall and ground all around me.
But one face in the mob was different. His demeanor was calm, and he was not yelling like the others. He began walking toward me very slowly and deliberately, and as he did so, the yelling and the stoning stopped for some reason, and all became silent. Upon reaching where I was cowering on the ground, he looked at me and spoke to me—loud enough so that all could hear—saying, “I come on behalf of the One who reigns now in Jerusalem, for whom your family now suffers. He has heard your parents’ prayers and yours, and what I do here, I do in His name.” Then he reached his hand toward me and said simply, “Rise, Rana, and walk.”
Before I even fully comprehended what he had said, I took his hand. The moment I did so, the pain I had known all of my life disappeared—and I stood up. I looked down in disbelief and saw a beautiful, new body, unblemished by a single scar and with two perfect legs that seemed to be begging me to use them!
I leapt forward to embrace my healer, only to find that he had vanished. But my legs would not allow me even a moment to pause and wonder where he had gone. I ran to embrace my father and mother, who were kneeling and praying and praising God with tears in their eyes. I prayed with them in joy but could not kneel to do so, as the wonder of being able to walk and jump and dance compelled me to run from person to person, to ask if they could see me—to ask them to tell me that all of this was real! As I did so, the faces that had been so twisted in hate only moments before now had tears streaming down them, as those in the crowd began to kneel and praise the God they had rejected, offering prayers for His mercy and forgiveness.
A few months have passed, and as I write this, I am accompanying my father and mother and many of our townspeople as a part of our nation’s delegation to Jerusalem to observe our first Feast of Tabernacles. The caravan makes for a large and motley crew, assembled from the collected wagons, donkeys, and camels of a humbled nation that has suffered much but learned much—and which longs to learn even more. The trip is long, and I have ridden for most of it, but my father has promised to let me know when we come within a day’s journey of Jerusalem.
He knows I want to walk the rest of the way.
Letter 3: Seeking the Lost
Greetings! My name is Qiang, and I’m a 68-year-old metallurgist in China. I am working on tools and implements we are developing for the housing projects that are accelerating in preparation for the soon-coming Great White Throne Judgment.
But I’m writing to talk to you about something that happened to me much earlier in my life, about 63 years ago when I was a small child of five.
My parents and I lived in a beautiful part of the world, surrounded by dense and abundant forest. Of course, by the time in the Millennium when I was born, so much of the world had become resplendent and beautiful. Before the Return, the area where we lived was known as the Taklamakan Desert—now it is called the Taklamakan Woodlands.
It’s important for those of you in the past to know that even in the Millennium, five-year-olds are no wiser than they were when you were five. One day, while I was outside our cabin playing with some mountain lion kittens, I saw their momma come to the edge of our clearing to call them home. Well, the fact that they were done playing with me didn’t mean that I was done playing with them, so I chased after them, laughing the whole time. Even after they were out of sight, I kept running—certain that they had just gone over this hill, or into that gully.
But as the sky began to darken, I suddenly realized that I had no idea where they were. And a heartbeat later, I realized that I had no idea where I was. I had run for so long and so far, nothing around me looked familiar; not a tree, not a log, not a stone looked anything like what I was familiar with around my home. Suddenly filled with fear, I sat down and began sobbing. I wasn’t afraid of animals or people, or even the elements—the One who ruled in Jerusalem had long ago rid the world of such fears. But I was only five, and I did feel so terribly alone. I’d never been so far away and out of sight of my mother and father for so long, and I worried I would never see them again if I couldn’t find my way back. I know it seems silly now, but for a little child who had never been alone in his life, the idea of being so completely alone in the dark without Mom or Dad was new, and it was terrifying.
And then, suddenly, I wasn’t alone. Three other kids who looked to be about my own age were walking toward me out of the woods: a little boy and two little girls. The boy asked, “Why are you crying?” After going on for about five minutes about baby mountain lions, I explained that now I was all alone and scared I would never be able to find my way home to my family again.
Then one of the girls said, “Don’t worry—you’re not alone. We’re here!” She took my hand and encouraged me to walk with them. She was so kind and friendly. I couldn’t understand how someone my age could make me feel so calm like my mother always could, but I somehow knew I could trust her, and the four of us started walking in the woods.
As we made our way through the underbrush and climbed over fallen trees, the boy asked me if I knew the story of Daniel. I did, and I explained to him what my dad had taught me about the lion’s den, and that it was a time when lions used to eat people. The boy said that he knew the story too, and that his older brother had taught him that one of the lessons of Daniel’s life is that God is always with us, even if our circumstances seem scary and dangerous.
Then, as we continued through the forest, one of the girls asked me if I knew the story of Ruth. I knew that one, too. I told them that my mom had explained about how faithful Ruth was to her mother-in-law and how God made her an ancestor to our King in Jerusalem. The girl said I was right, and that her older brother had taught her that one of the lessons of Ruth’s life is that even when we find ourselves in a strange place where we don’t know anyone, God is still with us, and we’re never really alone.
Then the other girl asked me if I knew the story of Tabitha. I asked her if she meant Dorcas—she did, and I got excited, because I had once gotten extra points during a quiz on the Sabbath when the question was about Dorcas. I said that she was the dead lady that God used Peter to bring back to life again. The girl laughed and said I was right. Then she said that her older brother had taught her that one of the lessons of Tabitha’s life is that there is no place on earth where God could ever lose us—that even in death, He can always find us and bring us back.
Shortly after she finished, I looked ahead and discovered that we had walked all the way back to the clearing where my house was. My father saw me first and yelled to my mother, “Honey, it’s Qiang! He’s here!” I ran to them as fast as my legs could carry me until they scooped me up in their arms, just as happy to have me back as I was to be there.
As I turned to thank my new friends for helping me, I saw that at the edge of the clearing stood not three small children, but three radiant beings of remarkable beauty. One cried out, “Welcome home, Li Qiang,” right before all three of them slowly lifted off the ground and then shot upward into the nighttime sky so quickly that they were soon lost in the sea of brilliant stars shining in the darkness overhead.
I had not been helped by children at all, but by three of the Children of God themselves. And even at five years old, I quickly suspected that I knew which three they were—and who their Older Brother was, as well.
Even 63 years later, the thought that three beings of such unimaginable power and responsibility would care enough to spend an entire evening helping a single, lost child make his way back home still humbles me. Their service to me that night and their lessons about faith and about God’s love for each of us have helped shaped the course of my life from that day forward. The words and kindness of the three “friends” I made that day have impacted every relationship I’ve had ever since—including the one I have with my heavenly Father—and I am eternally grateful.