BIBLE STUDY: READ REVELATION 20--22 Chapter 20 deals with the millennium. The word "millennium" means "thousand years" in Latin. There are some sincere Bible students who deny that there will be a literal 1,000- year reign of Christ on earth. They prefer to "spiritualize" the Old Testament prophecies and apply them to the church today. But we believe there will be a literal 1,000 year Kingdom on earth.
Verses 1-5 give us a brief view of what is happening just before the Kingdom Age. We must remember that the Battle of Armageddon is now over, and the Beast and False Prophet have been cast into hell. Christ now lays hold of that old serpent, Satan, and casts him into the bottomless pit. Some of Satan's followers are already chained (II Peter 2:4 and Jude 6), but now the old serpent himself is going to be taken.
The Beast came out of the bottomless pit (chapter 17:8) and was cast into hell, but Satan's final judgment is not yet come. At this point, there are no saved people left in the realm of the dead; all have been raised to reign with Christ. This is known as the first resurrection. It extends from the Rapture of the church (I Thessalonians 4:13) to the resurrection of the saints given in Revelation 20:4. All who are raised in the first resurrection are saved people. They will not experience the second death, which is hell.
The millennial Kingdom will be a divine rule of heaven upon earth. Christ will rule with a rod of iron, permitting no injustice or sin. Jerusalem will be the center of the Kingdom (Isaiah 2:1-4), and the disciples will reign with Christ (Matthew 19:28). Israel will be back in her land, sharing the glory of Christ, her rightful King. There will be peace on earth among men and animal creation (Isaiah 11:7-9; 54:13,14). Each man will be suited to the best job, and there will be perfect efficiency and joy. Of course, since there will be human beings on earth (apart from the church and resurrected saints with glorified bodies), children will be born with sinful natures. There will be, at the close of the millennium, many people who will give outward obedience to Christ but who have never submitted to Him from their hearts. This is one of the main purposes of the millennium--to prove conclusively that mankind cannot be changed, even under a perfect rule in a perfect environment. For, at the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be able to gather together a huge army to rebel against Christ! If men are not changed by the grace of God, nothing else can change them! After the millennium, we have the final battle. Satan will be captured and eternally consigned to the lake of fire. Note that the Beast and the False Prophet are still suffering in hell a thousand years after being taken. There is no way to get out of hell; it is a place of eternal torment!
In chapter 20:11-15, we see the final judgment. John sees a throne of judgment. It is great. All the sinners of history stand before it. It is white. It speaks of the unchanging holiness of God. He will not be a respecter of persons, and there will be no place for the lost to hide! The Judge on the throne is Jesus Christ (John 5:22). Today He is the Saviour of the world. In that day, He will be the righteous Judge.
My friend, there will be no opportunity for the sinner to argue his case at the Great White Throne Judgment when the books are opened and the facts are revealed. Sinners will stand speechless before Christ (Romans 3:19). God will not weigh the good and the bad-- He will pronounce every lost sinner condemned. All those who share in the second resurrection must face the second death--eternal hell. Satan and sin have been judged. Human rebellion has been put down. Now God can usher in the new heaven and earth--eternal bliss for the people of God.
The theme of the final two chapters is stated in chapter 21:5, "Behold, I make all things new." While it would be interesting to go into the many details of these chapters, it is, of course, impossible. The new heaven and the new earth are prepared for the redeemed of God. The present creation is not what God intends it to be. It is groaning and travailing under the bondage of sin. But one day God will usher in His new creation, and we who are born-again will enjoy perfect liberty and fulness of life for all eternity!
The final message of the Book of Revelation is, "I come quickly." The word "quickly" does not mean "in John's day." The word suggests "swiftly" and means that, when the things we have been studying in this great book begin to occur, there will be no delay. We do not know when Christ will appear, and it behooves us all to be ready.
Thus ends the last book of the Bible, the book of last things. We can end these comments in no better way than to echo the prayer of our hearts today--"Even so, come, Lord Jesus.".
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