Why Doesn’t 2 Esdras in the Apocrypha Mention the Millennium?
Why Doesn’t 2 Esdras in the Apocrypha Mention the Millennium?
Steve, I enjoyed your mentions of II Esdras from the Apocrypha, in your Current Events commentary on Russia and Daniel 7:5.
I’ve always wondered where, in all of II Esdras, is the Millennium reign mentioned, in which there are those of God’s wayward children who will be taught discipline.
In particular at 2 Esdras 7:81-87. Those verses read as every person on the wrong side of the gulf have earned eternal death and await it.
And that may well be…..if so then where are those who are taught discipline of which some will live?…I mean as far as what is written in Esdras?
Good question. When I really think about it, I realize you could almost say the same thing about the Old Testament.
As an example, let’s take a quick look at what Daniel 12:2 says about God’s children at Christ’s Second Advent:
Dan 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Dan 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
No mention of a Millennium teaching period there, at all. You basically have two classes of people: Those who don’t make it into the eternity. And those who do. And there’s nothing there about rehabilitating those who didn’t make it.
Likewise, it’s quite the same in the passages you mentioned from 2 Esdras, from the Apocrypha. Let’s take a quick look:
2 Esdras 7:78 Now, concerning death, the teaching is: When the decisive decree has gone forth from the Most High that a man shall die, as the spirit leaves the body to return again to him who gave it, first of all it adores the glory of the Most High.
2 Esdras 7:79 And if it is one of those who have shown scorn and have not kept the way of the Most High, and who have despised his law, and who have hated those who fear God —
2 Esdras 7:80 Such spirits shall not enter into habitations, but shall immediately wander about in torments, ever grieving and sad, in seven ways.
2 Esdras 7:81 The first way, because they have scorned the law of the Most High.
2 Esdras 7:82 The second way, because they cannot now make a good repentance that they may live.
2 Esdras 7:83 The third way, they shall see the reward laid up for those who have trusted the covenants of the Most High.
2 Esdras 7:84 The fourth way, they shall consider the torment laid up for themselves in the last days.
2 Esdras 7:85 The fifth way, they shall see how the habitations of the others are guarded by angels in profound quiet.
2 Esdras 7:86 The sixth way, they shall see how some of them will pass over into torments.
2 Esdras 7:87 The seventh way, which is worse than all the ways that have been mentioned, because they shall utterly waste away in confusion and be consumed with shame, and shall wither with fear at seeing the glory of the Most High before whom they sinned while they were alive, and before whom they are to be judged in the last times.
2 Esdras 7:88 Now this is the order of those who have kept the ways of the Most High, when they shall be separated from their mortal body.
While there are hundreds of Old Testament passages describing Christ’s Second Advent, there are none I know of specifically describing it as a 1,000 year teaching period that starts directly after Christ’s feet touch down on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
In other words, while Revelation 20:2-7 mention a “one thousand year” period six different times, if you look for that same terminology outside of the book of Revelation, there actually aren’t any verses I know of that specifically make the same statement.
So Revelation 20 gives us unique added insight into what the rest of the Bible (and the Apocryphal books, as well) do not fully explain.
Please don’t get me wrong. Christ’s reign at His Second Advent is certainly described throughout the Old Testament, for example, in Zechariah 14, and in many, many other places. But it’s described more as a time when Christ arrives, exacts His vengeance upon His enemies and reserves them for judgment, and God’s faithful children simply live under the Lord’s eternal rule from that point forward.
That’s pretty much what II Esdras teaches, as well.
Revelation Chapter 20
I think the descriptions of a specific 1,000 year time of teaching God’s wayward children how to behave in accord with His Word are confined to Revelation 20:2-9.
And we, as Christians who love to study the Bible, in-depth, use those verses to help us better understand the Old Testament passages, as well as those in Apocryphal books like II Esdras, that discuss Christ’s Second Advent, and what happens after His arrival.
Here are the passages in Revelation that mention the 1,000 year time-period we call the “Millennium”:
Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
Rev 20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
Rev 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Rev 20:5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Rev 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
Rev 20:8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
Rev 20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
In short, as you know, and as the above verses describe, those who didn’t earn eternal life during their stint through this flesh earth age will, at Christ’s Second Advent, be taught for 1,000 years.
Until that teaching period is over, they’re considered by God to be “the dead” (Rev. 20:5) because they’re spiritually dead to Christ at that point, either having never accepted Christ, or having unwittingly worshipped the antichrist when he came to this earth just before Christ’s Second Advent, or both.
Once the thousand years of teaching are up, Satan will be released from the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:7), at which point he’ll be allowed to try one last time to deceive those who had just received that one thousand years worth of teaching from Christ and His priests (Rev. 20:8).
At that time, those who still choose to follow Satan in his ongoing rebellion against God will be destroyed by fire (Rev. 20:9).
So when I really meditate on it, II Esdras in the Apocrypha pretty much goes along with the Old Testament, not mentioning a 1,000 year time-period at all. Again, only in Revelation chapter 20, in the verses directly above, do we find such a time-period mentioned.
As another example, in Jeremiah 23:1-8 we read of Christ’s Second Advent as follows:
Jer 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.
Jer 23:2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
Jer 23:3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
Jer 23:4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.
In verse 4, you can see the teaching. Shepherds (i.e., God’s elect) will be set up over God’s People, “which shall feed them.” In other words, these shepherds will “feed” (i.e., teach) them God’s Word so that they’re no longer lacking in knowledge of God’s ways and God’s requirements for entering into His eternal family household.
But in the verses above, there’s zero mention of 1,000 years worth of teaching for all people who didn’t make the grade, before the eternity starts. Again, only Revelation 20 makes such a mention. Let’s continue in Jeremiah 23:
Jer 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
Jer 23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Jer 23:7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
Jer 23:8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.
Of course, we know those verses are about Christ’s Second Advent, and the setting up of His millennial kingdom on this earth at His arrival, at which time people will be taught by His priests.
But we only know it in light of Revelation 20:5-9. Right? After all, there’s not a word about a 1,000 year period of teaching in those verses.
Likewise, let’s read Jeremiah 25:30-31:
Jer 25:30 Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.
Jer 25:31 A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD.
Again, we know this is about Christ’s Second Advent. And we can see Christ’s wrath unfolding in these verses. We also see the wicked being punished.
But we still don’t see a 1,000 year teaching period, and Satan being released at the end of the 1,000 years to try to deceive those who have been taught, so God can know who will remain faithful to Him under temptation, and who will not.
Indeed, and once again, just about the only way we know the “Millennium” is a teaching period is from Revelation 20:5-9 in which those who reign with Christ for the “thousand years” are referred to as “priests.”
Even then, you have to combine that knowledge with the brief mention of the duties of the Zadok (elect priests of God) in the so-called “Millennium Temple” chapters of the book of Ezekiel — chapters which, like the rest of the Old Testament, never actually mention the word “millennium,” nor state there will be a 1,000 year period of teaching.
For example, the following passages in Ezekiel 44 prophetically discuss the duties of “the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok”:
Eze 44:23 And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
Eze 44:24 And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.
From those passages, combined with Revelation 20:2-9, we discern that the elect will be the teachers of God’s children during the “Millennium” time-period, and will also settle “controversies” in accord with God’s Word, and enforce His laws within the “assemblies” (i.e., feast day meeting places).
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Zechariah chapter 14, which, of course, we know to be about Christ’s Second Advent.
This is probably the closest the Old Testament comes to discussing a one thousand year teaching period. But you really have to know your Bible in order to discern it. As it’s written:
Zec 14:1 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
We know from II Peter 3:8 that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
So the “day of the LORD” spoken of above is the thousand year “millennium” teaching period. It’s not specified. But for Bible students who know God’s Word, that’s exactly what it’s talking about.
Zec 14:2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
Zec 14:3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
This is talking about Armageddon, which takes place at Jerusalem, at the time of Christ’s Second Advent.
Zec 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
Zec 14:5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
Zec 14:6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:
Again, “that day” is a one thousand year period.
Zec 14:7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
Zec 14:8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
Of course, the “living waters” in the above verse are symbolic of God’s Word, which shall flow forth from Christ’s throne at Jerusalem to the rest of the world during that one thousand year “day of the Lord.”
We can read about that in Revelation 22:1-5, which describes both the rivers of living water that flow from Christ’s throne, and the fact that there will not be day or night at that time, for Christ Himself will be the light of the world.
We can also see from these verses, with a bit of discernment, that we’ll be in a completely different dimension at that time, because there’s no night time. It will always be daytime.
Zec 14:9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
So we see that Zechariah 14 probably comes closest in all of the Old Testament Scriptures to describing a one thousand year “millennium” reign of Christ, in which people are taught through the light (i.e., spiritual knowledge) of Christ and the “living waters” that go forth from His throne, which I believe to be His Word being broadcast globally at that time, on a frequency that can be tapped into by all souls.
II Esdras and the Old Testament
So it appears to me that II Esdras in the Apocrypha pretty much conforms to the Old Testament, not specifically mentioning the Millennium teaching period but essentially adding some interesting information about the shame that envelops the ungodly as they await their judgment (II Esdras 7:77-87).
I believe that specific section of II Esdras pretty much dovetails with the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31, in which, once again, no mention of a teaching period for God’s wayward children exists, but only the torment of waiting for the judgment.
Again (and sorry for so much repetition), it’s only in chapter 20 of the book of Revelation that we learn there’s a specific teaching period of 1,000 years set aside for “the dead” — i.e., those who are dead to Christ because they wouldn’t accept Him as their Savior while they were still in the flesh, or those who worshipped the antichrist when he arrived.
Then, there’s a testing period afterward, during which they must face Satan’s temptations. And failing that, they must face the fire of God’s judgment.
So we, as Christians who love God’s Word, use that very unique information from chapter 20 of the book of Revelation, to look back into Old Testament prophesy (and into Apocryphal books like II Esdras) and better “see” what Christ’s Second Advent and subsequent reign is going to be like.
And what we learn when we take it all in is that God’s wayward children are indeed bound for judgment in the great lake of fire (Old Testament and Apocrypha), but our Lord gives them a final chance to get things right in that 1,000 year teaching period, followed by a final testing which determines their fate (Revelation 20).
There are certainly some things in II Esdras that leave me scratching my head. But to my mind, those chapters in II Esdras regarding what happens to souls directly after the death of the flesh only enhance what we learn from the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke chapter 16.
And Revelation 20 enhances and magnifies what II Esdras and the Old Testament tells us, overall, about Christ’s Second Advent.
Regards in Christ,
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