Last week, we discussed the wedding in Heaven and we talked about how the customs of a Jewish wedding compare to our relationship with Christ. At the end of chapter 19, we read about the return of Christ—the groom—and the defeat of the armies of the beast. We hear so many stories about armageddon and the final big war, but this final conflict is over so fast that we don’t get much detail from it.
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. Revelation 20:1-13
As we studied in a previous week, the angel released demons from this abyss—Tartarus in scripture. Now, we see an angel bind Satan and throw him into the abyss for 1000 years. We do not know, and it does not matter, if this is a literal 1000 years. It is perfectly scriptural to understand it as meaning a long time. That is not the point here. At the end of this time, Satan is released again to go nuts for a bit. Why?
What does it say about human nature that people can live physically with Jesus right in front of them and still be drawn away? There’s no great war here. Satan draws together an army from humanity and God pours fire down on them and it is over. Satan is then thrown into the lake of fire where the beast and the false prophet were thrown in chapter 19.
At this point, let’s revisit the three main theories about the millennial kingdom from our lesson in week 5.
Postmillennialism- Christ returns at the end of the church age, after Christians have taken control of earth and created a world ready for his physical reign.
Amillennialism- In this view, Satan has been bound since the cross and Christ is presently reining over the Earth. He will one day come to Earth to judge mankind. The 1000 years is not literal, the antichrist is a metaphor, and the age began at Pentecost.
Premillennialism- Christ comes at the end of the church age, after the tribulation period, and literally lives on earth for a time—whether that is a literal 1000 years or just a very long time that is entirely up to him is debated.
A few points on these theories: Postmillennialism was the main view of Christianity throughout most of the church age. After the Civil War, then WWI in the next generation and then the pure evil of WWII, theologians abandoned this theory for the most part. It became obvious that humanity was not capable of creating perfection and ridding the world of evil for Christ.
So, the two main beliefs today are amillenialism and premillennialism. Amillennials tend not to like the name. They prefer to be called idealists. Much of this belief is based on the idea that the kingdom of God is spiritual, is at hand, with us, and cannot be observed. The kingdom is available always, but the evil that exists here prevents many from seeing it. This belief comes from the parables and Luke 17:20-21, Romans 14:17, Matthew 12:28.
Premillennialism is the more conservative evangelical view. Amillennials are more orthodox. You have probably always been taught the “pre” point of view. Maybe you have had some of the “idealism” mixed in. What do you think? One or the other or a bit of both?
After the millennium, whether literal or spiritual, Jesus judges the dead (Revelation 20:11-15). Who are these dead?
You can do the right things for the wrong reasons…
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.
Read 2 Peter 3:11-13. How can we hasten the coming of Christ?
We are given a vision of the New Jerusalem after the new Heaven and new Earth. Why do you think we need a new Heaven and Earth? This is not a makeover, this is a new creation!
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Note that the voice from the throne says the same words Jesus said before the crucifixion in The Passion of the Christ. This scene in the movie was actually quoting Revelation.
The description of the New Jerusalem is interesting in that it says there is no temple. The glory of God IS the temple and his light is so bright that we don’t even need the sun or the moon. We will discuss it in our conclusion and, of course, you will read all about it when you read Revelation out loud. This is the week to do that.
The judgments are based on works but how does that apply to believers? Those whose names are not in the book of life are thrown into the lake of fire where Satan and the beasts are being tortured. However, what does it mean that the humans thrown there experience a second death?
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 2 Thessalonians 1:9
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
The description of New Jerusalem is described as the appearance of the bride. Some say that the church has replaced Israel. I do not think this replacement theology is Biblical. God’s promise to Israel remains. In New Jerusalem, and on New Earth, there is no longer a sea. There is a river of life with one tree of life on both sides of the river. Could this signal the grafting in from the book of Romans?
“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen. This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise.”
Read Revelation 22:6-21. Discuss.
Next week, we will wrap things up and go back over a few points. It’s a lot to grasp but there is one simple message in Revelation and it is the message of God since the beginning. He desires to dwell with you and he wants to give you every chance to accept him. Persevere.