The Millennium

pinnable image of sheep, "The Millennium"

October 3-9

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The Millennium. I remember joking about it as a teenager and telling my friend that I wanted to raise my kids during the Millennium so that parenting would be easy. As I’ve studied more about the Millennium, I’ve realized that in some ways, it may be easier to raise kids in the Millennium but not for the original reasons I mentioned. 

We’ve always been taught that the Millennium can begin now in our own homes if we choose to live that way. The Nephites and Lamanites lived in a “Millennium” of sorts after the Savior visited the Americas after His death. The city of Enoch created a “Millennium” in one sense of the word. The whole world could live in the Millennium right now if we simply chose to do so (though it’s been prophesied that the world is only going to descend into further darkness). 

The Millennium isn’t something that happens to us. It’s something we create. It is not some surreal state that will simply descend upon the earth, and everything will become “perfect.” Instead, the destruction before the Second Coming will wipe out the wicked. The people who are left will be people who worked very hard to follow their Savior and become as He is. Sure, the Savior will walk among us, but that’s because the people live worthily enough to walk with Him.

The Millennium isn’t some random period of time where the Lord decides He is going to cut Satan off from tempting the earth. The Millennium is a period of time where the people choose to not let Satan have any power over them (1 Nephi 22:26).

Isaiah 65 teaches us about the Millennium, a period of 1,000 years where Christ will reign on the earth. What will life look like then? And more importantly, why is it helpful to know what life will look like then? I believe it’s important because if we can catch a glimpse of what life will be like in the Millennium, it could dramatically change how we live our lives today.

There will be work to do

When I learned about the Millennium as a child, I pictured a perfect world. And I suppose that in some aspects of the word, the world will be “perfect.” However, my perception of perfection was a little skewed as a child. As a child, “perfection” meant that everyone would get to play all the time. We would spend our days doing whatever we wanted with no consequences. Everything would come easily. Apparently, Heavenly Father has a different definition of perfect.

Isaiah 65:21-22

21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.

22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

So there will be work to do. The earth itself will not yet be perfected; it will simply be ruled by a perfect, all-knowing, loving King. Humanity will build houses and gardens (so no spontaneous fruit like in the Garden of Eden). We will be working. People will be industrious and work to provide for themselves and their family. Children will go to school, and hopefully all of us will be furthering our education.

Why is it significant to understand this? I think it’s because it changes our perspective on our own mortality and our beliefs about heaven and perfection. We shouldn’t put off perfecting ourselves until the Millennium comes or until we die and go to the Spirit World because that’s not how it works. Life doesn’t just become “easy.” Rather, we create heaven by perfecting ourselves. 

Bruce R. McConkie taught that, “Great and marvelous though the changes will be incident to life during the millennial era, yet mortality as such will continue. Children will be born, grow up, marry, advance to old age, and pass through the equivalent of death.”

People will still be people. I could be totally wrong, but I believe that in many ways, life will continue on in normal ways. Babies will still get fussy, some work will still be mundane, and big decisions like marriage will still need to be made. Surely life will be easier in the Millennium but not because we get to skip out on a mortal experience; it will be easier because we will be better people who are surrounded by other good people. Not to mention the Savior will be present; that’s an added bonus.

So as the world continues to descend into darkness, we can become good people and surround ourselves with good people. We can find peace in knowing that the atonement will right all wrongs, and I truly believe that we can walk with the Savior now.

The people who are left

We have been taught that there will be missionary work occurring on the earth after the Millennium has begun. To me, this implies that there will still be a veil over our eyes. If everyone remembered the pre-existence, there probably wouldn’t be much of a need for missionary work. There will still be repentance. There will still be trauma to overcome from the events leading up to the Millennium. 

 Let us also remember that missionary work occurs within the church as well as outside of it.

The Millennium does not require perfect people; it requires righteous people. And what does it really mean to be righteous?

Isaiah 65:25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.

One of the most distinct features of the Millennium will be a lack of enmity. Enmity means “hatred, hostility, and opposition.” There will be no enmity between people (or even animals!). 

Note that it doesn’t say, “Everyone will suddenly have the same opinions.” No, it says that the enmity will be gone. 

Christ will reign as King and will probably straighten a lot of political problems out, but I can’t imagine Him being much of a dictator. That has never been His style. Instead, I imagine Him leading us along. I imagine Him allowing us to still make decisions about how to balance our time and priorities. I imagine Him smiling quietly when we ask Him about big life decisions and then nudging us to make our own choices. He will call leaders who will make decisions about systems of government; He will still want us playing a very active role in our own development.

And we won’t be perfect at it either. We will still be learning about how to coexist in a world with many different people and needs. 

I also want to note how important it is to understand that people won’t be perfect yet. 

Will people still lose their tempers? Will they still get grumpy when they haven’t eaten in a while? Will they still get tired after a long day and not jump up to help someone else immediately? Will there be conflicting needs between spouses, in-laws, and church auxiliaries?

Though I can’t say for certain, I would argue yes. Our flaws will still need to be ironed out. We will still be repenting and growing. Christ will let us experiment so that we can see what works and what doesn’t work. He will let us learn for ourselves how to put in the work and progress to be like Him. 

That being said, we know that the people will be righteous. In my mind, righteousness looks like this:

Dad get’s home and is tired because there’s a problem at work that he’s having trouble solving. Mom has likewise had a rough day because the baby is teething and not sleeping. Dinner isn’t ready yet so everyone is a little hangry, and tempers flex a bit. Tones are clipped and short. 

But then there is also recognition. Dad recognizes that work is affecting him and that mom’s life hasn’t been easy. Mom recognizes that dad is trying really hard to solve some problems at work. Perhaps on some nights, dad will tell mom to go take a shower while he watches the baby and makes grilled cheese. And perhaps some nights, mom will finish out evening duty so dad can detox from work. There will be recognition that both of them are still human. There will be compassion and hope for a day when bodies are perfected and not tired anymore. There will be recognition of the sacrifices both have made, and there will be a deep belief that they are on the same team. That deep belief, compassion, and love will be the underlying thread through all of their actions with each other; it will guide their decisions to do what’s right and to repent when they made a mistake. It will continue to move along even through moments of strife.

I know that is an extremely specific example and I also know it’s a very traditional example, but that’s my life right now so I’ll speak from experience. Regardless of your family dynamics, the principles remain. Two engineers at work have differing opinions on how to move forward with a project. Two neighbors finally settle a long-standing line dispute between properties. Two politicians recognize the deep need for differing opinions in order to make sure that everyone is considered and taken care of. Humanity will realize they are all on the same team despite personal flaws and weaknesses.

The Millennium will not begin right now. Being ready to walk with the Savior is a process, and raising the generation that will be prepared to live in the Millennium is still forthcoming. However, there is a critical need to recognize what we’re working towards so that we can move towards it with purpose.

I am grateful for a Savior who loves us. I’m grateful that because of the atonement, I can progress until I live in a world that’s utopian. I am grateful that I can hope for a better world. Perhaps I can completely surround myself with good people right now and perhaps there are so many ways in which I am not yet “good,” but because of the atonement, I can hope for that world someday.

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