Revelation 20:1-10

Revelation 20:1-10

THE THOUSAND YEAR REIGN OF CHRIST

In this lesson we learn about the long-promised reign of God on earth.

OUTLINE    

If you are a fan of nature shows on television, get ready for a change. During the Millennium the peace of God will be so pervasive that lions will be stalking bales of hay instead of antelope. That's how world-changing the reign of Christ will be. And it will last for a thousand years!

I.The Kingdom Is Necessary to Reward the People of God

II.  The Kingdom Is Necessary to Respond to the Disciples' Prayer

III. The Kingdom Is Necessary to Redeem Creation

IV. The Kingdom Is Necessary to Reemphasize Man's Depravity

V.  The Characteristics of the Millennium

     A.   It Will Be a Time of Peace

     B.   It Will Be a Time of Prosperity

     C.   It Will Be a Time of Purity

     D.   It Will Be a Time of Perpetual Health

     E.    It Will Be a Time of Personal Joy

 

OVERVIEW

   Some 250 years ago, a man by the name of Isaac Watts wrote a hymn based on Psalm 98 called "Joy to the World." We sing it at Christmas to celebrate Christ's first coming. Unfortunately,

that is not what it is about. Watts wrote the hymn to celebrate the Kingship of Christ over all the earth, as the words indicate:

 

Joy to the world! The Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King.

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And heaven and nature sing.

 

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found.

 

He rules the world with truth and grace;

And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness,

And wonders of His love.

  

   As far as I can tell, the nations have not proved the "glories of His righteousness." But a day is coming when they will.

   Revelation 20 contains the only reference to the thousand-year reign of Christ found in the New Testament the Millennium (millennium means "a thousand-year period of time"). Verse 4 says, "And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." In the first seven verses of chapter 20, John mentions the thousand-year period no less than six times. Critics argue that since 2 Peter 3:8 says a thousand years is Like a day, that John can't mean a literal thousand-year period. Some of the same folks who argue that way say the days of creation in Genesis I are not literal either, that they represent thousands of years of time. You cannot have it both ways. It is better just to let the Bible speak plainly for itself.

   The kingdom in the Bible is referred to in many ways: "the kingdom of heaven," "the kingdom of God," "the kingdom of Christ" "times of refreshing," "the fullness of time," "the world to come." And John sees this period as a time when Satan is bound in the bottomless pit which allows for a period of peace on earth (20:2-3). John also saw a "first resurrection" which occurs just before the Millennium begins. This is the raising to life of those martyred for the Lord during the Tribulation who are resurrected and live during the Millennium. The unsaved dead are brought back to life in a "second resurrection" at the end of the Millennium when they are judged at the Great White Throne Judgment of God (20:11-15). At the end of the Millennium, Satan will be released from the bottomless pit to lead a rebellion against Christ and His rule. John outlines very clearly the details of what will happen in association with the thousand-year rule of Christ. To summarize what we have learned thus far, adding the Millennium to it the next event on God's prophetic calendar is the Rapture of the Church. With the departure of the Church and the Spirit from earth, seven years of Tribulation begin, culminated by the Battle of Armageddon when Christ returns (the Second Coming of Christ) with the saints to defeat the Antichrist. Following this defeat and the consigning of Satan to the bottomless pit for a thousand years, the Millennial reign of Christ begins.

   Abroad in Christendom today are three main views about the Millennium, the first two of which I believe to be erroneous.

1. Post-Millennialism

   Popularized in the early twentieth century, when it looked like mankind was on his way to establishing peace on earth, this view teaches the Second Coming of Christ will occur

"post" (after) the Millennium. That is, the Church will expand and cover the earth and establish the kingdom of God, after which Christ will return and eternity will begin. This view has fallen out of favor simply because two world wars and other evidences of carnality and depravity have made it clear that man will not establish utopia on earth. Scripture nowhere teaches that everything is going to get better and better. In fact it teaches the opposite. Very few supporters of Post-Millennialism can be found today.

     2.    A-Millennialism

   As with other words, an initial "a" is a negative, negating the concept of the word to which it is attached (e.g., an "amoral" person lacks morals). Therefore, the A-Millennialist does not believe there will be a millennium at all. Their main premise is that the idea of a Millennial Kingdom was taught by the Jewish prophets and that the Church has become the fulfillment of the promises to the Jews. Therefore, the blessings of an earthly, Millennial Kingdom are being manifested spiritually in the Church of Jesus Christ today. When Isaiah 11:7 teaches that the cow and the bear will graze peacefully together and the lion will eat straw instead of other animals, the A-Millennialists say that means something—but they aren't sure what. The problem, of course, is, who sets themselves up as the standard to decide how the whole Old Testament should be reinterpreted now that the Church has inherited the promises made to Israel? A-Millennialism leads to a highly allegorical interpretation of Scripture.

     3.    Pre-Millennialism

   I believe this is the correct biblical view. It teaches that the return of Christ will occur "pre" (before) a literal, earthly, thousand-year period of peace on earth. Christ will reign over earth from the throne of His forefather King David from the city of Jerusalem. This is the oldest of the three views, having been held predominantly by the Church fathers from the apostolic period forward. Pre-Millennialism is based on a literal reading and interpreting of Scripture.

   There are faithful evangelicals who hold to each of the three views, and one's view on the Millennium should never be a test of fellowship or orthodoxy. But it is important to establish a scriptural foundation for one's views on the Millennium, which we will do in this lesson. There are a number of reasons why a literal, earthly kingdom is a necessity in the plan of God.

THE KINGDOM IS NECESSARY TO REWARD THE PEOPLE OF GOD

   The Bible says that God intends to reward the faithful for their commitment, and the Millennium is one of those rewards. Believers will coreign with Jesus Christ over all the earth. Many Scriptures attest to this fact: Isaiah 40:10; Matthew 5:12; 16:27; 25:34; Colossians 3:24; Revelation 22:12. One of the rewards of faithfulness to God during this life is the reward of rulership and authority during the kingdom. It will be interesting to see who is assigned to rule over whom during that period. Since rewards are given for the faithfulness and motivation of the heart there will undoubtedly be some surprises.

THE KINGDOM IS NECESSARY TO RESPOND TO THE DISCIPLES' PRAYER

   In Luke 11 and Matthew 6, we have the record of Jesus teaching the disciples to pray that the kingdom would come "on earth as it is in heaven." Has that prayer been answered yet? Not literally, though we do have Christ ruling in our hearts. But that is not what the prayer is about. The prayer is that the will and rule of God would fill the earth just as it fills heaven. Therefore, in order for the prayer of every person who has ever prayed the Lord's Prayer to be answered, the kingdom of God needs to come and cover the earth. That is the only way God's will will be done "on earth as it is in heaven."

THE KINGDOM IS NECESSARY TO REDEEM CREATION

   In Genesis 3, God cursed the creation because of Adam's sin. From that point on, earth has groaned under the weight of that curse. While we may think the earth is beautiful today, what we see is just a shadow of what it was and what it will be again. The Living Bible paraphrase of Romans 8:19-22 says it well:

For all creation is waiting patiently and hopefully for that future day when God will resurrect his children. For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay—the things that overcame the world against its will at God's command— will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God's children enjoy. For we know that even the things of nature, like animals and plants, suffer in sickness and death as they await this great event.

THE KINGDOM IS NECESSARY TO REEMPHASIZE MAN'S DEPRAVITY

   All throughout Scripture, man has demonstrated that even in the best of circumstances, he cannot keep his depravity under control. The fallen human nature of man will not be eliminated until eternity begins at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. Even during the Millennium, when Jesus Christ Himself is ruling and reigning on earth, the depravity of man will manifest itself. Those faithful saints who survive the Tribulation period will, though redeemed, be fallen human beings just like you and me. They will The fruitful and multiply" over all the earth for a thousand years, bearing children with fallen human natures like their parents. And according to Revelation 20:7-10, Satan will lead a rebellion of deceived human beings at the end of the Millennium. This final revolt will demonstrate conclusively that apart from the intervention of God, man is totally incapable of righteousness on his own. God's judgment of man will once again, and for the last time, be vindicated.

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MILLENNIUM

   While the Millennium will be characterized by countless numbers of blessings and benefits, five major categories are clearly emphasized in Scripture.

It Will Be a Time of Peace

The prophet Micah in the Old Testament gives one of the clearest statements about the reign of the Messiah (4:2-3). In essence, there will be no more war. Military implements will be retooled for agricultural use, and nations will not lift up the sword against each other again. Not only will there be peace among humans but peace in the animal kingdom as well (Isaiah 11:6-9).

It Will Be a Time of Prosperity

   Isaiah 35:1-10 talks about how the desert will bloom like a rose when the kingdom of God covers the earth. There will be no wildernesses or deserts anywhere. For someone who lives in California as I do, where the dominant color of the landscape is brown, it will be like living in Hawaii or the tropics where everything is lush green all the time.

It Will Be a Time of Purity

Starting from the top down, holiness will pervade the earth. When a King who is holy is ruling, that influence of holiness tends to extend to every other part of His kingdom. This is one of the areas where the Scriptures speak most plainly about the kingdom of God on earth (Isaiah 11:9; 25:9; 66:23; Zechariah 13:2). There will be no lack of people worshiping God and pursuing righteousness.

It Will Be a Time of Perpetual Health

   Isaiah 65:20 says in that day a person 100 years old will be regarded as a child. The life spans of the first generations of humans will become the norm again, when people lived to be nearly a thousand years old. Sickness, disease, and infirmity will be done away with, and there will be no birth defects or retardation. Children will be born abundantly, and the population will increase rapidly, filling the earth with a healthy human race.

It Will Be a Time of Personal Joy

   A number of verses in Isaiah point toward the joy that will fill the earth when God is reigning over all (Isaiah 9:3-4; 12:3; 14:7-8; 25:8-9; 30:29; 42:1, 10-12). If there is anything missing in the world today (and there is much), it is true joy. I do not mean laughter;

I mean the deep-seated joy that flows from a clear conscience and sense that we and the world are right with God. The pain, agony, despair, and superficial happiness that characterizes our world today will be replaced by the joy of the Lord.

   Are you looking forward to a time of "peace [on earth], goodwill toward men"? (Luke 2:14) It is wonderful that the peace of God can rule in our hearts today (Colossians 3:15), but it will be even more wonderful when it rules over all the earth.