A millennium is a period of a thousand years. By Divine decree, the . The 7th millennium commences with the second coming of Jesus Christ, when the resurrected Lord returns to earth in glory.
Exactly what is God’s purpose for this thousand year period? And how is the last millennium related to eternal marriage?
First consider what Christ taught about marriage: “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matt. 22: 30). Based upon this particular passage of scripture, some incorrectly conclude that marriage is not a union that continues in heaven; but as we read Luke’s account of this same teaching, a key phrase helps clarify what the Savior really meant about marriage:
“And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage” (Luke 20: 34, 35).
When all scriptural passages pertaining to this truth are accounted for, we can see that Christ was essentially saying that marriage ceremonies do not happen in heaven. Being “given in marriage” is only for “the children of this world.” The ceremony of marriage, then, is an earthly ordinance.
Now consider what happens when “the children of this world” are married by the priesthood power that Jesus bestowed upon His apostle Peter:
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16: 19).
When “the children of this world” are married by proper priesthood authority, their marriage is indeed “bound in heaven”–in force throughout eternity. But this is not a conclusion derived by logic alone, it is a doctrine explicitly declared by Christ through a latter-day prophet:
“And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; . . . it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world” (D&C 132: 19).
One of the central purposes of the 7th millennium, when Christ personally reigns upon the earth, is to perform the ordinances of eternal life and exaltation for those who did not have the chance to receive them during their mortal life.
Baptism is the first ordinance that opens the way to eternal life (Mark 16: 16). If people do not get the chance to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ in this life, they will get the chance to receive it in the spirit world; and the ordinance of baptism can be performed vicariously in their behalf. This is what Paul was referring to when he said:
“Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor. 15: 29).
Reinforcing the reality and necessity of performing vicarious baptisms “for the dead” is this truth taught by the apostle Peter:
“By which also [Christ] went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (1 Peter 3: 18-20). “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4: 6).
So what does eternal marriage have to do with the 7th and last millennium?
In another latter-day revelation, Christ declared that marriage is an ordinance necessary to attaining exaltation in the highest heaven (D&C 131: 1-3). And like baptism for the dead, the vicarious ordinance of eternal marriage can only be performed in the house of the Lord.
Considering the billions of people born from the time of Adam until today and projecting the enormous numbers of people who did not have the chance to be blessed by the ordinances of eternal marriage and baptism, it is easy to see that there are many millions of ordinances that will need to be performed on behalf of the dead, during the last millennium.
The work of redeeming the dead is already taking place in hundreds of “Mormon” Temples throughout the world; a work that will be completed during the 7th millennium. Doing genealogy and performing vicarious ordinances for our kindred dead is one facet of the three-fold mission of Christ’s Church.
Because members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint (the “Mormons”) represent only 0.23% of the 6.6 billion people who populate this planet, the logistics of getting this enormous amount of work done will require many centuries of time to complete. Some argue, if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were really Christ’s Church, then more people would be members of it. But recall the Savior’s teaching that only “few” would be able to find His strait and narrow way (Matt 7: 14).
Because God is no respecter of persons and provides an equal chance for all to partake of His richest blessings, He has decreed the last millennium to be a time when all injustices become just. The final millennium is a time for those who remain on the earth to perform the exalting ordinance of eternal marriage in behalf of their kindred dead–couples who did not have the opportunity of receiving this blessing during mortal life.