Scripture Focus- Revelation 20
World peace has been an elusive goal in the midst of disagreements, conflicts, and wars. The Institute for Economics and Peace is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank “dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.” This certainly sounds like a noble goal. They released their report, “Global Peace Index 2018: Measuring Peace in a Complex World” recently. Using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators and measures of peace- they found peace has deteriorated in the last year, marking successive years of deterioration in a ten-year trend of the study. There is a significant disparity between their stated goal as an organization, and the reality of the world they identified in their research.
There are many in the world who are saying “peace and security.”
1 Thessalonians 5 About the times and the seasons: Brothers and sisters, you do not need anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.3 When they say, “Peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the dark, for this day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. 6 So then, let us not sleep, like the rest, but let us stay awake and be self-controlled. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled and put on the armor of faith and love, and a helmet of the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.
The only lasting peace will be ushered in when Jesus, the Prince of Peace, returns to the earth to rule and reign and usher in the eternal state.
Four realities of the Millennium:
Reality #1- Satan will be bound in the abyss. Vv1-3
A high point in redemptive history will take place as recorded in chapter 19. The Second Coming of Jesus will be in power and glory to the earth, to end evil, to fulfill the promise of God, and to set-up the Millennial Kingdom.
The Second Coming of Jesus will be visible. Every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. He will ride on a white horse, and will be called faithful and true. His eyes will be like a fiery flame, and he will have many crowns on his head, and will be wearing a robe dipped in blood.
The Second Coming of Jesus will be valiant. A sharp sword will come from his mouth as he comes to judge his enemies and strike the nations. He will rule with an iron rod and trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God.
The Second Coming of Jesus will be victorious. He will have the name written on his robe and on his thigh- KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. All who gather to oppose him will be defeated, and the bodies of the dead at the Battle of Armageddon will be left as food for the birds. The beast and the false prophet will be tossed into the lake of fire.
The picture of what will take place is a warning to unbelievers, to repent and believe.
The picture of what will take place is an encouragement to believers to live godly lives and be bold in the faith.
There is no chapter break between 19 and 20 in the flow of thought in Revelation. We pick up reading in Chapter 20 with the word “Then.”
I believe what is in view in Chapter 20 is a thousand year period of time, still to come in the future, referred to as The Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ. “A thousand years” is referenced in v2, v3, v4, v5, v6, v7. Millennium comes from the Latin mille annum- literally a thousand years. I think if this were a general period of time, meaning a long time, the text would indicate it. Yet it is referenced six times for emphasis. Additionally, there is the contrast of time frames used in v3, “a short time”, chronos. When the word “premillennial” is used in reference to an end times view, it indicates the perspective that Jesus will return pre/before the millennium, and there will be a literal millennium and it is not something figurative that is now taking place or will take place.
The Apostle John saw in Revelation 20:1, An angel coming down from heaven holding the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand.
At this point, all evil, rebellious humans will have been defeated and executed at the Battle of Armageddon. The Antichrist and the false prophet will have been thrown into the lake of fire. The last step in preparing the kingdom will be the removal from the earth of Satan and his demon hosts.
We will do well to take a step back here and identify who Satan is, and who the demons are who follow him. In this age of the denial of the supernatural by many, this is an important point.
Satan was created as a holy angel. Isaiah 14:12 gives his pre-rebellion name as Lucifer. Ezekiel 28:12-14 describes him as having been created as a cherub, the highest created angel. He became prideful and wanted to sit on the throne of God and take God’s place. He rebelled, was defeated, and God permanently removed him from his position. He became the ruler of this world and the prince of the power of the air.
Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers, and is the accuser, the tempter, a liar, and a deceiver. His name means adversary or the one who opposes. Satan was cast out of heaven and opposes all that God and his people do.
When Satan fell he took one third of the angels in heaven with him according to Revelation 12:4. Jude 6 mentions the angels who sinned. Demons are fallen angels who along with Satan rebelled against God. Some of them were at the time bound in darkness, with everlasting chains for their sin. Others were permitted to roam the earth and follow Satan to steal, kill and destroy.
We battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. The only way we can explain much of the heinous and horrible events that currently take place on the earth is the reality of the presence of evil.
The Devil is currently restrained in the world, in the future he will be removed from the world.
We are not told the identity of the angel who will come down from heaven to bind Satan but maybe he is Michael the Archangel. He will have great power, having been given they key, and authority of God, and will be sent to earth for a specific reason- to overtake Satan for the thousand year millennium and then release him at the end of it for his final defeat.
The word “abyss” appears seven times in Revelation, in reference to the temporary abode for certain demons. The lake of fire is the final place of punishment, but the abyss nevertheless is a place of torment. The idea of the chain appears in Jude also.
The angel will lay hold of Satan. He is called the dragon twelve times in Revelation, the serpent of old reminding us of the Garden of Eden and his deception of Adam and Eve.
Satan will be bound for 1000 years. In the current age he deceives unbelievers, schemes against and attacks believers, hinders ministry, leads people astray, and must be resisted. When he is bound, the abyss will be shut and sealed so that he cannot deceive the nations any longer. When the thousand years are over, he will be released for a short times. We will come back to this.
Reality #2- Believers will reign with Christ. Vv4-6
Who will enter the Millennial Kingdom alive? No unbelievers will enter alive. They all will be defeated as we saw in Chapter 19. Only believers will enter.
Several groups are mentioned specifically.
Seated on thrones will be people who have been given authority to judge. Who are the people seated on the thrones?
The Old Testament saints will reign with Jesus in the millennial kingdom. Daniel 7:27 Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One, His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.
The Apostles will reign with Jesus in the millennial kingdom. Matthew 19:28 You who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you shall also sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
New Testament believers will reign in the millennial kingdom. 1 Corinthians 6:2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? 2 Timothy 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with him. Revelation 2:26 He who overcomes, and he who keeps my deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.
Martyred believers will reign in the millennial kingdom. John saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the Word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or his image, or accepted the mark of the beast. They will come to life and reign.
V5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. What about the resurrection of the dead?
1 Corinthians 15:20 Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. V21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. V22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive V23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits. Afterward, at his coming, those who belong to Christ.
Christ was raised from the dead as the firstfruits.
Believers in Christ will be raised from the dead to meet him in the air when he returns.
Then the martyrs will be raised from the dead at the beginning of the millennium.
Finally, all who die during the millennial period and all the unbelieving dead will be raised at the end of the millennium to appear at the Great White Throne Judgment.
There will be people present in the Millennium with glorified bodies, and those who have natural bodies. Those who have glorified bodies will not procreate, but those with natural bodies will.
The reason I draw this conclusion is- only believers will enter the millennium, those who survived and enter in and those who have been or will be raised from the dead to take part. The ones who will take part in the final rebellion with Satan who will be released, are those born during the millennium who do not believe and follow Jesus.
The character of the Millennium:
At the center of the Millennial Kingdom will be Jesus who will establish himself as the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, and sit on the throne of David. The unfulfilled covenants of the Old Testament demand a literal, physical return of Jesus. The Abrahamic Covenant promised a land, a ruler, and a blessing for all nations.
There will be peace. Isaiah 2:4 They will beat their swords into plows and their spears into pruning knives. Isaiah 32:17-18 The result of righteousness will be peace, the effect of righteousness will be quiet confidence forever. Then my people will dwell in a peaceful place, in safe and secure dwellings.
There will be reconciliation in nature. Isaiah 11:6 The wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat. The calf, the young lion, and the fattened calf will be together, and a child will lead them.
There will be comfort. Isaiah 40:1-2 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and announce to her that her time of forced labor is over, her iniquity has been pardoned, and she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
There will be joy. Isaiah 61:10 I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, I exult over my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness. . 11 For as the earth produces its growth, and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
All of this is a preview of eternity with God.
Reality #3- A final rebellion led by Satan will be crushed. Vv7-10
At the end of the millennium, Satan will be released from prison. He will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog to gather them for battle.
Magog was a grandson of Noah according to Genesis 10. He settled to the far north of Israel likely in Europe and North Asia. His descendants in the Bible are described as skilled warriors.
Gog and Magog are referenced in Ezekiel 38-39, causing some to believe that reference to be the same as what we find here in Revelation 20. In Ezekiel, Gog will be the leader of a great army that will attack the land of Israel. What is referenced in Ezekiel is a different event from what is referenced in Revelation 20. The Gog and Magog of Ezekiel will take place in the first half of the Tribulation period just before the midway point. After that battle, it will take seven months to bury the dead. The rebellion of Revelation 20 is similar however in the evil of the people who try to come against God, led by Satan himself.
God and Magog in Ezekiel will take place at the midpoint of the Tribulation. Armageddon take place upon the Second Coming of Jesus. Gog and Magog in Revelation 20 will take place at the end of the millennium.
The number of the opposition will be as the sand of the sea, countless. They will surround Jerusalem in a last gasp effort, referred to here as the beloved city. Then fire will come down from heaven and consume all of God’s enemies. The devil who will lead the charge will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, into hell, where the beast and false prophet already will be, and they will be tormented day and night forever.
In reality, the battle, like Armageddon a thousand years before, will be an execution leading into judgment.
Reality #4- Unbelievers will be judged at the Great White Throne. Vv11-15
The Great White Throne Judgment will be for unbelievers.
What about believers who have already died? Every believer will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Hebrews 9:27 It is appointed for people to die once- and after this, judgment. 28 so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
2 Corinthians 5:9-10 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
What about believers who follow Jesus during the Millennial Kingdom? The Bible doesn’t say specifically, but it is implied they transition to be with the Lord eternally, not passing through death.
The Great White Throne Judgment, is the final sentencing of unbelievers. It is one of the most somber passages in all of the Bible. This is the last time in all of history where God will act as Judge.
All the unsaved who have ever lived will be resurrected. There will be a prosecution but no defense. No one will have grounds for complaint or dispute. John sees the Judge seated on his throne with all of the accused standing before him. The throne represents the seat of God’s sovereign rule.
Psalm 9:7-8 He has established His throne for judgment, and he will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.
The throne is white because of the holiness of the Judge. Earlier, the martyrs cried out, Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. 7:10
Earth and Heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. Creation will have been dramatically impacted because of the devastation of judgment during the Tribulation. God is preparing to call into being a New Heaven and a New Earth.
The dead, great and small, will stand before the throne and the books will be opened. All will face judgment regardless of their previous status on the earth. Even the sea will give up its dead, along with death and Hades. Hades is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word sheol, the realm of the dead. Hades is the preliminary to the final Hell.
The Judge will open the books. The books contain a record of every thought, word, and deed of all unsaved people who have ever lived. God keeps perfect records. The deeds, the works of sinners, will be measured against God’s holy perfection and found lacking. God’s holiness and justice demands payment for every person’s sins.
After the books containing evil deeds are opened, the book of life will be opened. The book of life is referred to several times in Revelation and is the record of the elect of God, all those who believe in Jesus for salvation. Their names are not found in the book of life so they are judged according to their deeds.
The verdict will be rendered, and justice will be swift. Death and Hades, the temporary place of punishment, will be thrown into the lake of fire swallowed up by the final and eternal hell.
Is your name written in the book of life?