The Epistle of Jesus #16: The Kingdom Comes - Revelation 20
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Introduction: Five great events that close all of time for all eternity take place in Chapter 20.
First Satan is taken and bound for 1000 years,
Secondly, The rest of the righteous dead, the Old Testament saints are resurrected and join Christ and together they reign with the New Testament saints during the Millennium.
After the Millennium, Satan is released, deceives the nation and there is on last great battle that takes place at the end of the 1000 years,
Finally, the unrighteous, unsaved dead in Hell are raised and brought before the Great White Throne for judgment and then cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity.
Savior Rules - Revelation 20:1-3
1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 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.
The thousand-year kingdom of Christ is called the millennium. The word millennium is a Latin word composed of mille, “a thousand,” and annum, “year”; thus, a thousand years.
Some would claim that there is no millennium, or that the millennium is taking place now and not after the tribulation. But just note how many times the phrase “1000 years” is used in this passage, six times, in six verses. That means six times you must deny scripture if you refuse to believe in a literal 1000 year reign of Christ which begins after his return and before eternity starts.
And why would you want to deny something as wonderful as the millennium? It will be the greatest period of history on earth since the Garden of Eden. The Old Testament is filled with the promise of God to His people of a time of heaven on earth. That time is revealed to us in the Book of Revelation as lasting 1000 years and takes place after the Messiah, the hero that defeated the Beast and the Dragon, saves Jerusalem.
Old Testament Descriptions of The Millennium
We could spend the rest of our time this morning reading the passages of the Old Testament that tell God’s promise of the Millennium to His people. Passages like Isaiah 2:2-4, 9:6-7; 11:4-9; 30:15-33; 35; 44; 65:17-66:13; Jeremiah 23:5-6 or Psalms 72. Instead I just want to highlight a few of the most memorable one.
Isaiah 2:2-4 And it shall come to pass in the last days,
that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains,
and shall be exalted above the hills;
and all nations shall flow unto it.
And many people shall go and say,
Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
and he will teach us of his ways,
and we will walk in his paths:
for out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
And he shall judge among the nations,
and shall rebuke many people:
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruninghooks:
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
Isaiah 35:5-8, 10 Then the eyes of the blind shall be
opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man
leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall
waters break out, and streams in the desert.
And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water:
in the habitation of dragons, where each lay,shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. …
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs
and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isaiah 65:17– 25 17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. 19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. 20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. 24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
Ruling and Reigning with Jesus
The Millennium is mostly about Israel, it has been promised them since the exile to Babylon and even hinted at before by David. And though it is mostly their kingdom on earth, isn’t it amazing that we will also be there ruling and reigning with our Savior.
I don’t know all of what that entails, but I do know that only heaven will be more wonderful than Christ on earth sitting on the throne of David and all the peoples of the earth will come to hear him.
Won’t it be almost unbelievable during the Millennium, that instead of trying to get people to come to church, trying to find a way to bring people to the Lord and struggling at every step in this sin-soaked world, instead of that hard path, people will be struggling to come to Jesus! We might have the job of just being ushers, telling millions of people, “Right this way to Jesus.” Wouldn’t that be great?
Can you imagine how many people will be saved during this time? First there is going to be a population explosion, there is no sickness, no death with perhaps the exception of accidents, there is no hunger, no shortage of water, the earth will flourish as it did in the Garden of Eden, but there won’t be a serpent. So, there will be billions upon billions of people born and they will all come to hear Jesus.
They will hear, Jesus himself, not some poor old preacher trying to do his best to tell them about Jesus, but they will hear and see Him. They will see and hear the one who spoke as none other before ever spoke. They will hear Him as Galilee, Nazareth, Sychar, Jericho and Jerusalem did when He first came. Back then in just about 2 years He had 1000s of followers flocking to hear Him, to find Him, to listen to His teachings. Just imagine how many will believe over a 1000-year time period, while Jesus teaches and preaches .
After all these hundreds of years of reading the Sermon on the Mount, the Olivet Discourse, the teaching in the Upper Room, all those years listening second hand as the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to prayer, but then we will be able to hear Him ourselves. The whole world will be able to hear Him.
How many will believe then will be saved? We can’t know exactly but in my mind’s eye and in my heart’s hope I see billions upon billions, upon billions. There will be many more saved during the Millennium, than were saved during the thousands of years before Jesus returned.
People of that generation will look at us and whisper, “They believed before Jesus came back! What faith they must have had!”
That’s us, that’s this age we now live in. A time of walking by faith and not by sight and great is the reward for those who keep that walk.
Remember the story of Jesus and Thomas? In John 20:26-29 Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Paul made this statement in 2 Corinthians 5:6-7 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
That is our task, that is our calling, that is our challenge until Jesus comes back, “Walk in faith.” And one day, one glorious, wonderous, fantastic day we will see Him face to face and hear those wonderful words of life directly from His own lips.
Illustration: Won’t It Be Wonderful There
When with the savior we enter the glory land
Won't it be wonderful there
Ended the troubles and cares of the story land
Won't it be wonderful there?
Won't it be wonderful there
Having no burdens to bear
Joyously singing, with heartbells all ringing
Won't it be wonderful there?
Walking and talking with Christ, the Supernal One
Won't it be wonderful there
Praising, adoring the Matchless Eternal One
Won't it be wonderful there?
Saints Reign – Revelation 20:4-6
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. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 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.
The Resurrection of the Righteous
All the righteous, all the saved, of all ages and times, will be resurrected during the first resurrection. But we need to understand that first here as it is used is in regard to the second resurrection of the unrighteous. The first resurrection by the power of God took place in the Old Testament under the power of Elijah and Elisha. In the New Testament, Jesus stopped a funeral procession and raised a son to his mother and brought back to life a precious daughter to her parents. Lazarus was raised 4 days after his death and all Jerusalem heard of the miracle. Jesus was the first fruit of all the resurrected. Some graves were opened when Jesus was crucified. (Matt. 27:52–53) Paul and Peter both were able to bring back to life disciples of Jesus during the early days of the church.
So, this is not first in the sense of chronology, it is first as regards the book of Revelation and as contrasted with the second resurrection. This first resurrection begins at the Rapture of the saved during the church age. It continued with the resurrection of the two witnesses will took place as the whole world looked on in Revelation 11. Next here we have the resurrection of the faithful heroes of the tribulation, martyred by the beast and his followers, This will occur soon after Christ returns to earth, Revelation 20:4–5. The last resurrection will be that of the Old Testament saints also at this this time, though not specifically spelled out here, but we read of it in Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel
Daniel 12:1-3 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. 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. 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.
Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.
You must also understand that this is a bodily resurrection. John has seen the saints, Old Testament and New Testament, in heaven with the Lord as souls, spirits. But we were created as body and soul and Jesus in his resurrection was not spirit but once again body and soul. So, all the resurrected will be following the “first” resurrection. Our souls which have “been absent from the body, but present with the Lord” will now be reunited with a perfect sinless, ageless body.
And yes, I will have hair. Some of you won’t even recognize me.
After the last of the “first” resurrections the saints shall reign with their King.
This will include the Old Testament Saints, the true Israel but it will also include us, the church, the Bride of Christ, in some way.
Jesus said in Luke 22:29–30 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Not sure exactly how this is going to be done and it really doesn’t matter. Personally, I’m hoping the Lord gives me a mountaintop somewhere like Joshua gave Caleb but an island would be just as nice.
The next event in Revelation 20 is a hard one for us to understand. But it has its parallels with the Garden of Eden just as the Millennium’s wonder and beauty are also comparable to the Garden.
Satan Released – Revelation 20:7-9
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 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. 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. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Rebellion of the Nations
Satan, who as taken and bound with a chain by a single angel, is released from his prison, his stinking foul pit. The Bible says he goes forth to the four corners of the world, to Gog and Magog, as numerous as the sand of the sea and once again they march on and surround Jerusalem. But it is a very short battle and God sends fire from heaven and their destruction is so complete that it is as though they were “devoured.”
Now you should ask yourself, “Why is Satan set free? Why is he loosed for a short season here at the end of the millennium, the most peaceful time in all the earth’s history?
I certainly don’t have the mind of God on this but I think it is the same answer as would be given to someone asking why Satan was allowed to live after he rebelled and why he was allowed into the Garden of Eden to tempt Eve and Adam.
It is the same answer given when someone asks why is there sorrow, pain and sickness in God’s creation? The same answer to why there is a heaven and a hell.
After 1000 years of no Satan, God releases him one last time. This gives all those who were born during the Millennium, and there will be billions upon billions, a greater population than the world has ever been able to sustain, It give those people a choice, it is the final proof that man is not a fatalistic puppet jerking at the strings God pulls. But that God desires and will have only those who truly choose Him as their God.
This is also the finally, proof of God’s grace, His mercy and man’s inherit sin nature and willingness for rebellion. Even with Jesus, physically on the earth, and Satan bound the Bible says a number more than the sand of the sea from among the nations will turn against God and once again follow Satan.
Could there be any greater proof of God’s giving mankind a choice. Even if that choice is eternally and desperately wrong.
After this last war, Satan is once again taken and now cast into the Lake of Fire, joining the Beast and false Prophet who have been there for 1000 years.
They are the first inhabitants of the Lake of Fire for Hell has not yet been emptied of those who are there. Look at vss. 11-15
Sinners Judged – Revelation 20:11-15
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
The Great White Throne Judgment
Quickly I want you to note these things.
This is the second resurrection, but it is not a resurrection to eternal life but a resurrection to eternal death.
All the dead, who were not in the first resurrection(s) will stand before God seated upon the Great White Throne, which symbolizes utter, pure holiness and justice.
The unrighteous dead are now judged by two books. The first is the book of their life, the book of their deeds and actions. They are judged according to their works and their place in the Lake of Fire, their degree of punishment is according to their works. The Lake of Fire is just what as its title declares it to be, but even in everlasting fire there is justice. A Hitler, a Stalin, a Mao will not be judged in the same way that person who did not commit the same horrific sins and atrocities that they did.
How do we know this? Jesus told us.
Degrees of Eternal Punishment
Matthew 11:20-24 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
Mark 6:11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
I have no idea how the God will make even an eternal lake of fire just but He will. They are judged according to their works.
But if anyone is counting on the Lake of Fire being tolerable, they need to also remember what Jesus said about eternal punishment. And He said more than any other person in scripture, because He knew more.
The Suffering of the Lake of Fire
Mark 9:43-48 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Their torment will be the same as those described in Revelation 14:9-11 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
The Contrasts of the 20th Chapter
We go from the heights of God’s grace and love to the depths of His justice and judgments in this chapter. We see the world as it was meant to be when Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden but we also see the final result of man’s sin which spoiled the Garden and will close the Millennium.
I want to live on the heights. I want to live on the heights in my life now and I sure want to be on those height reigning with my King Jesus during the Millennium. And just like those who face a choice at the end of those 1000 years, it is my choice right now. I can choose where I will spend the Millennium and where I will spend eternity.
The gift of God’s image to us is also the gift of free will and the consequences of such a great gift is literally the price of eternity. Where do you intend to be when eternity begins? Then make sure you make the right choice and be a part of the resurrection of the righteous and not the resurrection of the damned.