Christ Rules on Earth, part one Rev. 20:1-3
We now come to chapter 20 and the Millennial reign of Christ. It is this earthly reign of Christ that is the culmination of every event of Scripture since the fall of man in the garden of eden. This is eden restored, paradise restored. The Kingdom of Christ in which He will restore everything to its pre-fall condition and will reign for a thousand years.
We have been studying the tribulation period since what, chapter 4, actually chapter 6 when the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Our study has taken us through seven years of tribulation in which the world has been reshaped by calamities that are unbelievable to us today. That tribulation ended with the return of Christ and the destruction of Satan’s army in chapter 19 with the battle of Armageddon, the beast and false prophet are in the Lake of fire.
We see this earthly reign of Christ fits between the battle of Armageddon and the new heaven and new earth of Chapter 21. In between is this reign of Christ, the capture of Satan, his last ditch rebellion after his release which is destroyed when fire comes out from heaven and he is then cast into the lake of fire with the beast and false prophet. Then, we have record of the last judgment of the dead who are without Christ, we commonly call the Great white throne of judgment. There all who are not in the book of life will be judged according to their works and be cast into the lake of fire called the second death. Then the new heaven and new earth are seen.
Much is said about this thousand year reign of Christ in Scripture, both OT and NT. , , , , , and many more places speak of this time. And we will have cause to look at some of those passages as we wade through this chapter.
This chapter is one of the most difficult passages to understand completely because of the many issues that pop up that have various views. It is hard to not come at this with my presuppositions about the millennial kingdom. Let me just give you some of the questions we have to wrestle with as we attempt to discern the meaning of this chapter. I don’t bring these up to confuse you or to discourage your confidence in the scripture, but to show you the weightiness of this topic.
Is this 1,000 years to be taken literally or figuratively? Does John mean for us to understand this as an indefinite length of time or is this actually 1000 years? As you read and study yourself you will find there are those who think because this is apocalyptic literature we must take this 1000 years symbolically not literally.
Who are these who reign with Christ during the 1000 year kingdom? Are the text seems to limit this to only those who are martyred by beheading during the tribulation.
Are these different groups of believers or to be taken as different characteristics of one group?
How about verse 5, the rest of the dead, who are these, believers and unbelievers alike, or only unbelievers?
What is the first resurrection referring to in so far as the timing and participants?
These are some of the questions we have to answer satisfactorily if we are going to come away with an accurate understanding of this chapter.
ON top of the questions above we have the diversity of interpretations that flow out of he answers to those questions.
I want you to bear with me now because what I am going to say might be a bit boring to you who find such details a tedious and uninteresting. Nevertheless, I think it important to at least mention some of the views or explanations of this chapter. But I promise I won’t spend much time here.
There are four explanations of this passage, as pointed out in Walvoord’s commentary. I will just list them and leave it to you to study them, because we simply would be lost in them for a long season. Here there are:
The literal and premillennial interpretation which sees this as a literal period of 1000 years preceded and followed by resurrection and judgment. The early church fathers, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian are some that follow this thought.
Amillennial view that sees the resurrection as spiritual, the new birth and millennium began at the first coming of Christ. Augustine popularized this view. Amillennial meaning there is no literal 1000 year reign of Christ.
The resurrection mentioned referred to the revival of the church that began at the time of Constantine when paganism was overthrown, Christianity became the state religion.
The postmillennial view regards the thousand year reign of Christ to occur prior to the second coming of Christ.
So there you have it. Four interpretations of this chapter. I follow the first one, literal and premillennial. My reasons will become clear as we move through this passage.
Now then, Because I don’t have weeks and months to examine this topic I am going to preface our study of this chapter with a few readings from the OT to help us get a feel for where John is getting this information as far as his own insight into this time. And I think I will be able to help you connect the dots, to string a line, so to speak, from these passages to .
The first one is . And these are not exhaustive you understand, and not necessarily in any order.
But when you read it is easy to see the events of , overlay this psalm. The nations gathered together against the Lord’s anointed; The wrath and fury of God poured out on those nations, setting Christ up as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, then breaking those nations with a rod of iron as pertaining to Armageddon and the rule of Christ whereby those who trust in Him can find refuge.
Or where we read about the mountain of the Lord where there will be peace among all nations. And He takes a backward look to the time just before that called the day of the Lord in which the rebels will flee to caves and under rocks to hide from the Lord’s wrath.
Or we can skip to and see again the time of the kingdom utopia.
Or where my servant David is described as the Good shepherd who is Jesus and He will seek out his sheep and feed them. By the way that was displayed graphically by Jesus on the shores of the sea of Galilee when he fed the 5,00 and the 4,000 . That was just a precursor to this time where the sheep will be provided for. And all will know that I am the Lord. This was one of Ezekiel’s favorite sayings.
Another passage is where we read that The Ancient of Days is on His throne. The Son of Man is given dominion, and in particular v.22, 27 where the Saints are given judgment and possession of the kingdom and serve and obey the Lord.
The Final one to look at for our purposes is “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
What we learn then is the teaching about this reign of Christ is nothing new. It is what the Jews thought would happen when Jesus came the first time. And I think explains their unbelief because He didn’t set up this rule at that time. Well now we are there. We are at the point where Christ sets up His kingdom to rule with His saints for a thousand years.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (1995). (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version., ). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
What we learn then is the teaching about this reign of Christ is nothing new. It is what the Jews thought would happen when Jesus came the first time. And I think explains their unbelief because He didn’t set up this rule then. Well now we are there. We are at the point where Christ sets up His kingdom to rule with His saints for a thousand years.
I divide this chapter into four sections:
The Rule of Christ affirmed by the imprisonment of Satan, v.1-3
The Rule of Christ assisted by His Saints, v.4-6
The Rule of Christ approved by the final defeat of Satan and his attendance in the lake of fire, v.7-10
The Rule of Christ adjudicated by the judgment at the great white throne v.11-15.
That will take us through the chapter to the new heaven and new earth in chapter 21.
Let us continue then with number one. And I will only review my thoughts in preparation for next time.
I. The Rule of Christ affirmed by the imprisonment of Satan, v.1-3.
Here I have simply,
a. The Jailer with his key and chain
b. The prisoner seized, chained, and cast into the abyss
c. The Abyss locked and sealed.
These flow simply from the text but they find their significance to us in that they show us that Jesus very clearly is the true ruler. Satan was a charlatan. He thought he was untouchable. He even had the world convinced and going after him. But just as in OT this happens so that, to use Ezekiel’s phrase, “all will know that I am the Lord. Saith the Lord.”
Satan is locked up and can no longer exert his influence on this world. No longer will the proverb “the devil made me do it.” be able to be used by sinful man. Sin will still be present in the heart of man, to be sure. However, there will not be any demonic influence or corruption for a thousand years. With Satan put away, righteousness will rule.
We will deal with that next time.
What do we take away from this study today?
Let me suggest to you four things:
Rejoice and be glad, Jesus Reigns today and forever. Satan has always been a fraud.
Submit yourself under the mighty hand of God. Put away your pride and self sufficiency. You see how that ends up with Satan. It didn’t work for him and he is more powerful than you. What makes you think you can fare better than him.
Pray for His kingdom to come, as Jesus taught us in His prayer, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Be glad and take comfort in the fact that no matter your state or condition right now. If you know Christ as your Savior. If He is Lord of your life you have part in His kingdom and the second death will not be your destiny.