Sun, Nov 12, 2000

The Millenial Reign: Revelation 20

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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THE MILLENNIAL REIGN

REVELATION 20

Please turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 20, as we continue our study in the book of Revelation. And this morning we are going to be focusing on the millennial reign of Christ. So as you are turning to Revelation chapter 20, listen to this story, for there are many people today who deny the literal 1,000 year reign of Christ:

There is a story told to the effect that a Jew, being in the company of a Christian, took up a New Testament and opened it to Luke 1:32, 33. "The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His Father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever."

Turning to his Christian friend the Jew asked, "How do you understand that Scripture?" The Christian answered, "Oh, it’s figurative language, descriptive of Christ’s spiritual reign over the church." "Then you do not take it literally?" asked the Jew. "Certainly not," replied the Christian.

The Jew made this further remark, "Then why should you expect me to take literally what precedes, where the Scriptures say that this Son of David shall be born of a virgin? Do you believe that literally?" "Surely," answered the Christian. The Jew continued, "Why do you accept verse 31 as literal, but explain verses 32 and 33 as figurative?" "Because," answered the Christian, "verse 31 has become a fact - Jesus was so born. It is indisputable evidence." "Ah," said the Jew, "I see! You believe the Scriptures when you see them fulfilled. I believe them because they are the Word of God." Who was right in principle?

- King’s Business

A interesting question and I think one that can be easily answered. In Revelation chapter 20 we see the literal number 1,000 spoken of 6 times in just 15 verses or once every 2½ verses! This is not symbolic, but literal, as we shall see this morning. In fact, the millennial reign of Christ is the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets said would take place. Jesus will rule and reign from the throne of David! (See II Samuel 7:12-16).

Now last time we saw the Lord return with His bride, the church, and destroy the armies who had gathered together to fight against Him. Then the Antichrist and the false prophet were cast alive into the lake of fire that is burning with brimstone. That is where we will pick-up our study, immediately after this event here in Revelation chapter 19. So with that said, let’s begin reading in Revelation chapter 20, starting in verse 1.

REVELATION 20

VERSES 1-3

As the millennial reign of Christ begins, God has one of his angel’s come and he binds Satan and cast’s him into the bottomless pit, the ABYSS, the same place those demonic creatures that were likened to locusts back in Revelation chapter 9 were kept until God unloosed them upon the world in judgment. So up until this point, the bottomless pit has been empty, but not any longer, it has one guest, Satan! It is possible, though, that Satan’s followers, those angels that fell with him, will also be locked up in this abyss for 1,000 years.

During the Millennial reign of Christ Satan is bound, but understand that the heart of man, his flesh, will still cause him to rebel against God, but not like we see today. In the kingdom age if anyone gets out of line, the Lord will deal with them immediately as He rules and reigns with a rod of iron.

Now some feel that Satan is bound already, defeated by the Lord at the cross of Calvary. Yes, he was defeated at the cross of Calvary, but if Satan is bound today, it must be with a very long chain, for he surely has and is affecting many peoples lives today. Understand this, Satan is not bound yet. Yes, he can do nothing unless the Lord approves of it, allows it, but Job even spoke of that. In fact, Peter warns us in I Peter 5:8-9, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by yourbrotherhood in the world." He is still on the prowl, still seeking whom he may devour. So be wise, be on guard, resist him in the faith, for "...He who is in you is greater than he who is inthe world." I John 4:4.

"According to Doctors at the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, rattlesnakes thought to be dead can still strike, bite, and kill you. Doctors in Phoenix said they have a large number of patients admitted each year suffering from bites from rattlers thought to be dead. Sometimes the snakes were shot and their heads cut off, but the snake head retains a reflex action, and one study showed that snake heads could still make striking-type motions for up to sixty minutes after decapitation.

Satan, that old serpent, was defeated at Calvary. His head was cut off. Hebrews 2 says that our High Priest, by His death, destroyed him who holds the power of death. But for a season he can still strike and wound us. He can still hurt and poison our relationships and spread his deadly venom into our homes and lives."

- Robert J. Morgan

But that day will come to an end as he is locked in the bottomless pit, and it is too bad they didn’t throw away the key! For after the millennial reign of Christ, he will be let loose for a little while, and we will deal more with that as we come to verses 7-9 of Revelation chapter 20. We will try to answer the reason why God allows him to be released for a time.

VERSE 4

We read of this group of people in Revelation chapter 6, those souls under the altar who have come to Christ during the tribulation period and were martyred, beheaded for their faith in Christ. They refused to worship anyone or anything except the Lord and they paid the penalty for their faith in Christ. It is as Paul told Timothy, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." II Timothy 3:12. And, obviously this is the ultimate in persecution! And here it seems to imply they will get their resurrection bodies as the kingdom age begins. And they will be rewarded for their faith as they live with Christ during the kingdom age.

VERSES 5-6

Now those who have died not knowing the Lord will be sent to Hades or Sheol, a place within the earth. This is a temporary holding place until the final judgment. They will not receive their resurrection bodies until that time, and again we will deal with this at the end of this chapter.

Now those that don’t know Christ, they will not partake of the first resurrection which began with Christ. In I Corinthians 15:22-23 we are told, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming." And from Christ, being the beginning of this harvest, it continues on to the rapture of the church, and on out through the tribulation period where we see the martyrs of the tribulation period enter into this first resurrection and it would seem to continue on till the end of the kingdom age, for those who come to Christ during this period of time will enter into eternity with the Lord. It truly is a blessed time, being part of that first resurrection!

We are told that those who are part of this first resurrection will not partake of the second death. What does that mean? The first death is physical death, the death of these bodies, which we all will partake of except those who are raptured unto the Lord. The second death is being eternally separated from God in the lake of fire. Obviously, as Christians we don’t have to worry about the second death. And we will look at this more as we conclude this chapter, as I said earlier.

VERSES 7-9

Notice that those 1,000 years of imprisonment in the bottomless pit did not change Satan at all! As soon as he is released he goes out to deceive the nations. Imagine living in a world that for 1,000 years has seen the goodness of God, and now comes this wicked alternative!

Now when I was a young Christian this portion of Scripture troubled me. I couldn’t understand why God would let this monster, let Satan loose. I would have locked him up and thrown away the key! So why did God do this?

Keep in mind that during the kingdom age, those who enter into this period of time, they will marry and have children. And thus, for many of them they have not had a choice to make. They have only known the Lord. And so Satan is allowed to give people a chance, to either choose God or choose Satan, because without a choice, there is no love! And God only wants those who truly love Him to enter into eternity with Him.

And as unbelievable as this may seem, many will reject Christ and turn to Satan and follow him. That just tells me you can live in a perfect environment, as the kingdom age will provide, having righteousness permeate the land, and still rebel against the true God. You see, it is not where you grow up, it is your heart! Man’s heart is wicked and unless he gets a heart transplant, he is born again, he is going to manifest what is in there, and it is ugly, it is the works of the flesh, and it is in rebellion against God!

So as Satan is released for a "little while" he is able to gather his people together, those who have rejected Christ from all over the world. And he calls them Gog and Magog, which makes many people think of what is spoken of in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. It is a war with Russian and her Muslim allies coming after Israel to destroy the Jewish people, and God intervenes and destroys this massive army. And I believe it is this event that is the start of the tribulation period.

Now understand this, I don’t believe Gog and Magog are speaking of Russia again, nor do I believe that Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 are speaking of this event here in Revelation chapter 20. Then what does it mean? I believe it speaks of Gog and Magog in a symbolic manner, that it is speaking of man’s rebellion against God as seen in what Gog and Magog did before!

Let me give you an example and I think you will see what I mean. Most of you have heard of Waterloo, it historically speaks of Napoleons’s defeat at Waterloo, Belgium. But it also speaks symbolically of any great defeat, "That person has met his Waterloo!" you might say.

And now, notice what they do. They gather together and circle the saints of God in the Beloved city, Jerusalem. We can read of Jerusalem being the place where the Lord will reign from in Isaiah chapter 2, beginning in verse 2, which says "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established on the top of themountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Manypeople shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to thehouse of the God of Jacob; he will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ Forout of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shalljudge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords intoplowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword againstnation, neither shall they learn war anymore." Isaiah 2:2-4.

Now as these people circle the city, think about this, what did these saints of God do to cause these people to come against them to destroy them? Absolutely nothing except live a life that is pleasing to God. And because of that, the darkness does not like the light and they try to put it out, extinguish it.

And as they prepare to destroy the saints of God, the judgment of God comes upon them swiftly and without discussion, destroying them with fire. If these people only could see their future living apart from God before they made the wrong choice. God did warn them, but I am sure they will regret their choice and they will have an eternity to think about it. Can you imagine living with the Lord for 1,000 years, seeing only His goodness, and then turning against Him. How foolish! Man was offered deliverance and they rejected it. And people are no different today, God extends His hand of forgiveness and they reject Him and try to silence the saints of God.

VERSE 10

For all those who believe in the annihilation of the wicked, you are wrong. For 1,000 years the Antichrist and the false prophet have been cast into the lake of fire, outer darkness, where they are tormented day and night, and now Satan is sent there. And soon they will be joined by all the wicked, after the great white throne judgment.

When I was growing up Alice Cooper had a album out that was titled "Alice Cooper goes to Hell!" And for Alice Cooper, and for many people, Hell is a party place in which Satan is in charge. The music is playing, the drinks are flowing, good times for all, is the thought. Heaven is boring, Hell is party time! How wrong Alice Cooper is, and how wrong are all those that feel that way. In fact, in Mark chapter 9 Jesus is warning those who are heading down the path to Hell, to Gehenna, to outer darkness. And He says of this place that it is a place "where ‘Theirworm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." Mark 9:44.

Now just reading that doesn’t sound good. But what does it mean? The way I see it is like this, and it is pretty bad. The word for "worm" is maggots, and thus, you have been given a eternal body and these maggots will feed on you for eternity. Also, your eternal body will be fuel for the fire, but you will never be consumed. Gross? Shocking? I think that was the point Jesus was making. Don’t go down that path!

Now we are going to move to the great white throne judgment, which takes place after the millennial reign, after Satan is loosed and after his rebellion is put down and he is cast into the lake of fire. And it seems that this judgment comes after God destroys this present heaven and earth and creates a new one. It is then that all the wicked will be judged.

VERSE 11

This seems to indicate that what Peter spoke of has now come to pass. Peter said "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." II Peter 3:10. And so God creates a new heaven and a new earth, which we will see in Revelation chapter 21 next time.

Now where does this judgment take place, in the new heaven, on the new earth, where is this throne that the Lord will sit upon to judge the wicked? We are not sure, but I do believe it is Jesus who will judge these people. John tells us in John 5:22, 26-27 "For the Father judges noone, but has committed all judgment to the Son...For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to executejudgment also, because He is the Son of Man." Now John is going to fill in the details of who will be judged and on what basis they will be judged.

VERSES 12-15

All the dead who have rejected Jesus Christ will be moved from Hades or Sheol, and come before Jesus sitting upon this throne of judgment. And notice, when you are dead, stature, power, influence means absolutely nothing!

Now John speaks of two books, the book of life and then another book, which seems to contain multiple volumes. The book of life speaks of all those who have come to Jesus Christ, their names are written in the book of life. Thus, those whose names have not been found in the book of life have already been judged. Notice what Jesus says as He speaks of judgment because "of sin, because they do not believe in Me." John 16:9. Their sin is their rejection of Jesus and thus, they have been judged already. Jesus again spoke of this in John 3:18, which says "Hewho believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already,because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

If that is true, then what is the great white throne judgment all about? If they are already condemned, already judged because of their rejection of Jesus, why have this other judgment? This judgment is more of a sentencing of the wicked for what they have done. John says "...Andthe dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in thebooks." Revelation 20:12.

Imagine having your life replayed for you - all the things you have done in your life. You are standing before God, and here it comes. Not a encouraging thought. I would not want my life displayed before God, showing all the wrong I have done in my life. It is as Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, "For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whethergood or evil." Every word, every thought, every intent will come before the wicked once again, and thus, there does seem to be degrees of punishment in Gehenna which is based on what the wicked have done and what they did with what God has given to them, what they know about Him.

And finally, death and Hades were done away with, cast into the lake of fire. What does that mean? It means that there will be no more death, all the saved will enter into eternity with the Lord. Hades, the holding tank for the wicked until the great white throne judgment, will be emptied and the wicked will be cast into the lake of fire, so there will be no need for this place any longer, a place that was created for Satan and his demons, according to Matthew 25:41, and it is also used, because of man’s rebellion, as a place of incarceration for those who have rejected Christ.

Thus, this second death is complete, final, there is no second chance. Anyone whose name is not found in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire, eternally separated from God. And in reality, it all comes down to this. Do you want a fair trial then or a complete pardon now! The fair trial will send you to Gehenna, the lake of fire, for you are guilty before God. But, if you come to Jesus you can be assured of your salvation and you will be cleansed of your sins. You doubt that you can be assured of your salvation? Listen carefully to what Jesus said in John 5:24, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sentMe has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death intolife." Also, in I John 5:13 we are told "These things I have written to you who believe in thename of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you maycontinue to believe in the name of the Son of God."

If you are not sure where you stand with God today, then come to Jesus. He will pardon you, He will forgive you of your sins, for He has paid in full the penalty for your sins by giving His life on the cross of Calvary. His pardon is available by His shed blood! And understand that God never will force you, but He will call you, invite you to join Him. Won’t you answer His call this morning? If you refuse you are already judged and are just awaiting the final sentencing! It is your choice. Let me leave you with these words of comfort from Jesus, found in Matthew 11:28-30, which says "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will giveyou rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." May you come to Him and find the rest you are looking for, it is only found in Him!

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