Scriptures from the book of Hebrews unless otherwise stated.
6:19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 6:20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (ESV)
8:1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 8:2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. 8:3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 8:4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 8:5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. (ESV)
9:23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 9:24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. (NIV)
10:1 Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the reality itself of those things, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year. (CSB)
9:11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 9:12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. (NIV)
We see from the above passages that the earthly Levitical priesthood foreshadowed the heavenly Priesthood of Christ. The sacrifices of the OT priests foreshadowed the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The earthly service of the Levitical high priests in the presence of God, was a picture of Christ’s priestly service in the presence of God in Heaven. The earthly was a type of the heavenly. Thus the Priesthood of Christ is performed in Heaven, not on earth. Therefore, the idea of Christ leaving His throne in Heaven to continue His service as High Priest in an earthly kingdom, is contrary to what these passages reveal to us.
That the Levitical priesthood foreshadowed Christ’s Priesthood in Heaven, is important to understand, because according to premillennialism, the animal sacrifices of the “millennial kingdom” serve as a memorial, which makes it an aftershadowing. Nowhere in the Bible do we see the animal sacrifices looking back, but always forward as a type of Christ and His work of redemption. Nowhere do we see this foreshadowing reversing direction. The only memorial that we have of Christ’s sacrifice mentioned in the Bible is in the here and now in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
Furthermore, the below verses plainly state that Jesus will remain “at the right hand of God….until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet.”
10:12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 10:13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. (ESV)
A parallel passage is 1 Cor 15:24-26 (also 50-54):
24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (NIV)
Jesus will remain upon His throne in Heaven, reigning over His Kingdom (which is now), until it’s time to return in judgment of the world, defeating all His enemies, which includes “death.” He will leave His throne in Heaven only when the last person has entered the Kingdom of God and the Church is complete. At that time Jesus will resurrect His people and return to earth in judgment — which results in the death and resurrection of all the lost, and where everyone will stand before Christ at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-15).
How then can Jesus leave His throne in Heaven and come to this earth to reign over an earthly kingdom when there will still be death in that kingdom? Both physical and spiritual, I might add. Such an idea is completely contrary to what the writer of Hebrews teaches about the Priesthood of Christ. The Priesthood of Christ makes NO allowance for an earthly kingdom (“millennial kingdom”). Such a kingdom is based on an OT understanding. This is a perfect example of why it’s necessary to interpret the OT according to the revelation of the NT. Otherwise, what you end up with is a kingdom that doesn’t exist.
This is all confirmed by the verses below:
9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (ESV)
When Jesus returns, it will not be to “deal with sin” as He did upon the cross during His first coming. It will be to judge the world and to lead His people into the everlasting kingdom of the new heaven and new earth — which is a continuation of Heaven (Rev 21:1-5). By the time Jesus returns, God’s plan of salvation for mankind will be finished, and His Church complete. Then and only then will Jesus leave His throne in Glory as High Priest. But to be clear, His priestly service for His redeemed continues throughout eternity, which ensures our eternal salvation (He 5:6; 6:20; 7:17,21,24).
We may not have a perfect understanding of the Priesthood of Christ, but what seems unmistakably clear is that the Priesthood of Christ on our behalf takes place in the presence of God in HEAVEN only. In fact, it plainly says that. Nowhere does the book of Hebrews or any other NT book indicate that His priestly service takes place anywhere else but in HEAVEN. Therefore, we can be confident that the Heavenly Priesthood of Christ does not allow for an earthly millennial kingdom. If there was such a kingdom, it would require Jesus to leave His priestly service in Heaven before all people are saved (that will be saved), before His Church is complete, and before the appointed time to return in judgment upon the world.
As long the people of Christ are in this world, and as long as there are people who will yet be saved, He will not leave Heaven where His priestly service is carried out. That eliminates the idea of an earthly kingdom. When Jesus does leave Heaven and return to this earth, it will be first for judgment, and then to lead His people into the Eternal Kingdom of the “new heaven and new earth” (Rev 21:1-3).