(Administration in the Kingdom Age)
Question: Considering that the millennial reign of Christ is to be, among other things, a perfect political administration, it stands to reason that it will not be a bloated bureaucracy. Yet Christ is said to rule with all His saints. Do you think it is possible that God is waiting until the number of saints, dead and living, equals the number necessary for a perfect administration?
Answer: It’s an interesting question! The simple answer is, of course, that we just don’t know. But, all the same, there are a number of relevant Scriptures that are worth looking at.
1) Second Peter 3:12 speaks of Christians “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God [i.e. the Day of the Lord].” The words "and hastening" seem to suggest that we can somehow move the end-time events closer, by our prayers, our witness, and the preaching of the gospel, thus bringing more people to repentance and faith (vs. 9). The NIV follows that line of thinking with, “look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”
This is in harmony with Peter’s sermon in Acts 3:19-20, where he says: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before.”
Such passages do seem to hint that the Lord may have a specific number of converted individuals in mind. However, others say it is open to serious question whether a sovereign God would adjust His timetable in this way. The phrase “and hastening” can also be translated “earnestly desiring,” which would remove this supposed difficulty.
I’m still on the fence on this one. I don’t have enough light to be dogmatic about either view. But it does seem at least possible to me that, as your question implies, the ushering in of future events is related to God’s (sovereign) determination that all who are to respond to the gospel have done so.
2) As to who will rule in the Kingdom, under the supreme rule of Christ, we know that the apostles will have a key role in relation to Israel. The Lord told them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration [the renewal of the Kingdom Age], when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you [disciples] will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28; cf. the prophecy in Isa. 1:26). (Judas Iscariot, who committed suicide, was later replaced by Matthias, to bring the total to twelve once more, Acts 1:26.)
In addition, there will be some kind of administrative role for other believers (Rev. 5:10; 20:4). There is a parable of the Lord Jesus (in Lk. 19:11-27) that may be pertinent here–though I hasten to add that we must be cautious about “proving” something from parables. They are made-up stories to teach a particular spiritual truth. That being said, the details here are intriguing.
In the parable of “The Ten Minas” (a Greek mina being equal to about 3 months salary), servants are rewarded for their faithfulness, during the absence of their master, by being assigned rulership over an appropriate number of cities in his realm. For example: “He said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you have been faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities [or towns]’” (vs. 17).
As I say, it’s not possible to build a dogmatic doctrine on this. But it does suggest that there will possibly be a division of administrative work, and ranks (a hierarchy) of administrators, in the coming Kingdom Age.
3) Given that millions have come to Christ since Pentecost, it seems to me quite possible that the necessary total of future rulers and governing officials has already been reached, or even surpassed. But God knows the optimum number needed.
Keep in mind that though the Church Age saints will be in their glorified bodies at that time, while those who enter the earthly Kingdom after the Tribulation will still be in their mortal bodies. And because of the greatly improved conditions, men and women in the latter category will live longer, and bear more children (Isa. 65:20; Ezek. 47:22; Zech. 10:8).
It’s my belief that longevity will return to what it was in the beginning. (Recall that Methuselah lived to be 969 years of age, Gen. 5:17.) So, it could be that many will live through the entire thousand years of the Millennium, bearing many children over the years. The population will increase rapidly, calling for the establishment of more towns and cities, and therefore more administrators.
Another thought. We don’t know whether these jobs will all be permanent. Or whether, like some politicians today, individuals will serve for a particular term–perhaps with the possibility of reappointment. In ancient Israel, the tribe of Levi got so large that not all the Levites could serve in the temple at one time. They were divided by King David into twenty-four groups, each with an assigned period of service (I Chron. 24). I don’t know if something similar will be worked out in the Kingdom, but it seems possible.
4) One more quick thought. I wonder if the references to our reign describe something corporate, rather than individual. That is, because we belong the Christ, and honour Him as our King, we are, in a sense, a part of His reign, a part of the reigning congregation of the saints. In a similar sense, because we vote on those who serve in our government, we are corporately a part of the ruling body. (This is just a speculation. But I wonder of reigning together with Christ will be, at least for some, experienced in that secondary sense.)
As you indicate, whatever the case, our sovereign and omniscient Lord will have a wise and efficient administration, with no “bloated bureaucracy.” I look forward to serving in whatever way He calls me to.