In order for the Lord to establish a beautiful, good, clean Heaven on Earth, He’ll first have to clean up the Hell on Earth that the Antichrist and his government left behind—and the horrible slaughter left behind after the Plagues of Wrath and the Battle of Armageddon.
When the Battle of Armageddon is over, there will be so many dead bodies left that the Scripture tells us it will take “men regularly employed”—a full-time job—seven months to bury the dead in Israel alone (Ezekiel 39:14). That being the major battlefield, apparently it will have the highest concentration of slaughter and the most bodies. As a result of that terrible slaughter, there’s going to be a very great mess left behind.
God knows how many dead there will be in other parts of the world, but according to the prophet Jeremiah, the dead are going to be “from one end of the Earth even to the other end of the Earth. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall become refuse on the ground” (Jeremiah 25:33). Such is going to be the horrible holocaust of the world’s wars and judgments of God upon the wicked.
In Israel it is going to take seven years to clear away and burn all the wreckage, weapons, and vehicles of war, etc. “Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and bucklers, the bows and arrows, the javelins and spears; and they will make fires with them for seven years” (Ezekiel 39:9). Now in Ezekiel’s day perhaps they could have burnt weapons, but not so in this day and age, because most weapons are made of steel and other alloys. Could it take that long to melt down and reprocess all that metal? And there will be a lot of other nonmetallic materials that are burnable. It is difficult to know exactly what that means, but in any case we are told it will take seven years to accomplish the cleanup.
The meek will inherit the Earth.—But what an Earth! Nuclear war, the Wrath of God, and the Battle of Armageddon would have caused widespread devastation. We can suppose that the regions hardest hit will be the United States, Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, since that is where these wars occur or are most likely to occur. In some countries it could mean very few survivors, living in a desolate aftermath. God’s people will have new supernatural bodies, but not the unsaved who have survived the destruction and war.
God may well allow the contaminated, polluted, and possibly radioactive ruins of the great cities and nations of some of the Antichrist’s strongholds, and those of his principal enemies to remain for the duration of the Millennium as reminders and memorials to the slaughter of millions and the awful destruction and havoc that humankind wreaked upon the surface of the Earth. Revelation 19:3 says that the smoke from the destruction of Babylon, the great materialistic capitalist system which is destroyed by war at the end of the Antichrist’s reign, rises forever and ever, or more correctly for an age and an age. So since that destruction happens just before the Millennium, it is possible that its ruins are still smoking in—and possibly right through—the Millennium. Throughout history, when cities were totally destroyed, most of the time people didn’t try to salvage them and rebuild them. Instead they built a new city nearby, because it was more trouble to clear away all that rubble than it was to go out and find a new site to build on.
But as for the habitable parts of the Earth, these areas are going to be restored and cared for and will start resembling the original creation, perhaps even becoming as beautiful as the Garden of Eden. However, because a lot of these people aren’t exactly like Adam and Eve, they’re not going to get to simply wander around naked picking fruit off the trees. There are going to be lots of normal, natural people in the world who need to eat. So they’re going to have to grow food.
The portions of the Earth’s surface which have not been destroyed and which are still in usable condition and still tillable and fertile and useful for agriculture are going to be needed to grow the food to feed the millions of survivors. God is going to utilize the help of people who have expertise in this area—not just farmers, but also those who know how to set up distribution networks and get the food to the people.
Small industries will most likely also be set up—probably not the huge industrial complexes and factories of today, but small-scale enterprises to supply people shelter, clothing, furniture, and other needs.
Thus will begin the process of restoring the Earth to the original beauty and perfection of the Garden of Eden (Revelation 20:1–4). The Bible says that the time of Christ’s personal reign on Earth will last for 1000 years. How much of this time will be taken up with the restoration of the Earth we don’t know, but it sounds like it’s going to take a good number of years, and there will certainly be no unemployment.