A time is coming when Jesus will sit on His throne in Jerusalem. The nations of the earth will no longer go their own way to follow any god but Him; the peoples throughout the world will bow down and worship the King of kings. Jesus will rule and reign, and He will bring peace. It will be a glorious time – one hard for us to imagine given the discord and chaos that surrounds everyday life of today. But, during the Millennial Kingdom, the 1,000 years when Christ is present here among us – truly Emmanuel, God with us – life will be much different.
The logistics of who rules over what is an interesting study. Where does Israel fit into this picture? How about Christ-followers? The Bible actually outlines all this for us.
In Matthew 19:28, we partly see how Israel will work. Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the Kingdom of Heaven:
“Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.””
First, we need to understand that aside from the 7-year Tribulation, believers from any era will not be spending much time in what we typically think of as heaven, i.e. a spiritual realm in the sky. The Millennial reign of Christ takes place on earth. For that period, we will not spend our time sitting on clouds, strumming our harps, and eating heavenly bon-bons. God will put us to useful, meaningful work!
Following the Millennium, God makes a new heaven and new earth, purging the old with fire to purify all that was. But, guess what? He makes a new earth for a purpose. Once all the old has passed away, we will inherit this new earth! We still won’t be occupying “heaven” as passive beings. God has glorious plans for us during that future time and forever, and it will also involve purposeful work.
However, let’s get back to the time Jesus sits on His throne in Jerusalem. In the above verse, Jesus told His disciples – whom He was with personally – that they will rule with Him in Israel. Not only that, but David will have a major role in ruling, just as Ezekiel 37:24 says:
“My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes.”
How this will likely work is hierarchical rulership. Jesus reigns at the top of the hierarchy. He will rule the entire world. Psalm 2:6-8 speaks of this:
““As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.”
Under Jesus, David will be king over Israel. Under David, Jesus’ disciples from His incarnation on earth will administrate from their positions. It is also probable that the twelve patriarchs – the sons of Israel – will have ruling authority within this scheme.
This blueprint addresses Israel. What about the rest of the world?
Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 lays this out:
“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!”
Revelation 2:26-27 provides another look at this:
“The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.”
From these passages we understand that Gentile believers – those who have received their glorified bodies – will administer the affairs of the nations outside of Israel. No doubt we will be organized hierarchically for this according to our abilities.
We get one more glimpse of this from the time when Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law visited him. Jethro saw how much work was necessary for Moses to judge the affairs of the Israelites. Prior to that, Jethro, a pagan Midian priest, had become a follower of Yahweh (Exodus 18:11-12). Perhaps God gave him a measure of wisdom for his conversion. He advises Moses on a better way to handle the issues of the people in Exodus 18:21-22:
“Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.”
This is likely a foreshadowing of the hierarchical arrangement for ruling in the future for both Israel and for us as we superintend the nations under Jesus’ guidance.
God has much in store for those who love Him. He created us for a reason. If you think heaven will be boring; think again! A time of immense joy, peace, and purpose is coming. And we have the great privilege of participating alongside Jesus! Can you imagine?