The Millennium

TEXT: Revelation 20

The vision here in ch. 20 has been one of the most hotly debated of all the visions in Revelation. And it has to do with the millennial reign of Christ. (See at the end of this post a brief definition of the 3 major views of the Millennium).

But the Millennium is really not the main point of this text. In fact, it’s only mentioned once in all the Bible, here in Rev. 20. This chapter is really about the complete defeat of Satan and the total triumph of Christ.

There are four main events in this chapter:

I. The Devil is bound           (vv. 1-3)

When did this binding of Satan happen? Remember, these visions are not chronological. We can’t look at ch. 19 and think this comes next. In fact, this binding of Satan happened when Jesus came the first time. Since we believe this time period is describing the church age right now, and Satan is bound right now, this chaining up and temporary restraining of the devil happened when Jesus came to earth the first time. Consider how this lines up with what Jesus taught:

-Matthew 12:27-29 – Jesus said the kingdom is upon you, and one evidence is His authority over demons.

-Luke 10:18 – Jesus told His disciples He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

-John 12:31-32 – As Jesus prepared to go to the cross, He said the ruler of the world has been cast out.

II. The Saints reign           (vv. 4-6)

Those who have followed Christ and even died for Christ on the earth, they are ruling with Jesus in heaven right now. This “first resurrection” is when a Christian dies and their soul ascends to heaven to be with Christ. They died once, never to die again. So verse 4 is a spiritual resurrection for the believer to life, and v. 5 is a physical resurrection for the unbeliever unto judgment.

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection. That’s you and me, and every Christian who ever lived. Over such the second death (the judgment of the wicked) has no power, because Jesus already took our judgment for us. What awaits us church, is to be with Jesus, to rule and reign with him forever.

III. Satan’s final deception           (vv. 7-10)

Right now, during the church age, Satan is bound. His authority is limited. The gospel is going forth to all the world. But that won’t be the case forever. Just before Jesus returns and marks the end of the symbolic 1,000 years of the church age, Satan will be “released”. He and his demonic henchmen – the beast and the false prophet – will increase in power and deceive the nations. We’ve seen this depicted over and over since ch. 12. This is just another perspective of that same event. And as Satan grows in power, as the nations are deceived, He will amass His armies to do battle with God.

But, as we’ve also seen repeated throughout Revelation, the devil will be soundly defeated and utterly destroyed. The devil’s end is coming and Christ’s victory is sure. Let that encourage you. Let that break the fog of discouragement and hopelessness and give you hope. One day every bit of sin and evil will be completely and totally gone.

IV. Christ’s final judgment           (vv. 11-15)

These are some of the most important verses in the Bible. And they are crystal clear: There will be a final judgment. Every single person will stand before Jesus, the King and judge over all. All of the dead will be raised, and we will all stand before Jesus. No one excluded. And at this judgment, there will be one determining factor, one question to answer if you will spend eternity with Christ in his heavenly kingdom, or burn forever in the lake of fire with Satan.

That question will not be, “Are you a good person?”. It is not, “Were you a religious person, a spiritual person?” That question is not “Did you grow up in church and read the Bible and give to charity?” The question is this: Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Be sure it is now, through faith in Christ. Look forward to that day. And share the gospel with as many others as you can until that day comes.

 

Discussion Questions:

1. What are some aspects of this text or this sermon that challenged you? Encouraged you?

2. To know that the saints are reigning with Christ in heaven right now, how should that encourage us in this life? Affect our worship? Our evangelism?

3. Why is it important to remember, and to remind one another, that the devil’s defeat is sure? How could the recurring temptations in our lives lose their power if we kept this in mind?

4. What does it mean to have our name written in the Lamb’s Book of life? How can you be sure your name is there?

 

(Three major views of the Millennium):

1. Pre-millennial view says that Jesus will return before the millennium. They believe at the end of the church age, and at the end of a literal 7 year tribulation, Jesus will return, He temporarily binds Satan, resurrects believers, and enact a literal 1,000 year reign on the earth. They believe there will be some unbelievers on the earth at the same time, some of which they believe will be saved, (which they would say the majority would be Jews.) At the end of that 1,000 year reign, Satan is released, he’s defeated, unbelievers are resurrected and judged into hell, believers are resurrected and welcomed into new heavens / new earth.

An off-shoot of this the “dispensational pre-millennial” view. This is the “Left-Behind” series. They basically take historic pre-millennialism and add in a secret rapture of the church, where Jesus secretly takes away all the Christians, leaves only non-Christians, after which there is a literal 7 year tribulation with the beast and antichrist, then Jesus returns a second time (or a third time, depending on how you look at it), and sets up a literal 1,000 year reign on the earth.

2. Post-millennial view (Many of the puritans and people like Jonathan Edwards held to). They believe that the 1,000 year reign of Christ is right now, that during the church age, things will get better and better, the gospel will grow in its effectiveness causing most of the world to be “Christianized”. Then Jesus will return after this 1,000 years, resurrect Christians and non-Christians to face the judgment, new heavens and new earth enacted.

3. A-millennial view (This is the view many of the Reformers and church fathers held, and the one that I think is most biblically accurate.) Now the name for this view is unfortunate. The “A” part means without, which could sound like this view promotes no millennium. That’s not the case. It simply means that we believe the millennial reign of Christ in Rev. 20 is not a literal 1,000 years, since most of the numbers in this book are symbolic. The amillennial view says that the 1,000 years spoken of here is actually the time between the first and second advent, between the first coming of Christ, and His second coming. Jesus returns, destroys Satan and all who follow him, both Christians and non-Christians are resurrected, one to eternal life and the other to eternal torment, Jesus sets up the new heavens and the new earth, and He reigns forever.

This is very similar to the post-millennial view with one major exception. We don’t believe the world will get better and better, but it will instead get worse and worse. Yes, the gospel will continue to go forth, but persecution of the Church will increase the closer we get to Christ’s return.

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