The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF CHRIST
- I am going to speak tonight on the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The word "millennial" refers to the "thousand years" mentioned six times here in Revelation 20 (20:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
- In this future period of one thousand years, hundreds of Old Testament prophecies from the Psalms, and the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and others, will be fulfilled.
A LITERAL THOUSAND YEAR REIGN
- When it comes to studying Bible prophecy, the best way to avoid error and confusion is to follow the literal and premillennial interpretation, which holds to a literal one thousand years reign on earth.
- Some teach that "a thousand years" simply symbolizes a long period of time, but it would seem strange for God to mention the figure six times if it were not a literal thousand years.
- Furthermore, it should be noted that all of the numbers in the book of Revelation are to be taken literally (cf. 7:4; 14:20; etc.).
- Premillennialists believe the second coming of Christ will precede His thousand-year reign on earth.
- Some Christians reject premillennialism, and they teach the amillennial ("no millennium") view, which uses the allegorical (non-literal) method of interpretation.
- The amillennial interpretation is essentially a denial that there will be a literal millennial reign of Christ after His second advent.
- Some amillennialists believe the millennial kingdom refers to the saints reigning in heaven with Christ, and that Satan was bound at the cross (Rev. 20:1-3).
- This would contradict many other Scriptures. The New Testament teaches that Satan is very active in this present dispensation.
- In Acts 5:3, Peter said to Ananias, "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?" (cf. Acts 26:18).
- First Corinthians 7:5 says, "Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency."
- Second Corinthians 2:11 says, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
- Second Corinthians 4:3 and 4 says that Satan is active in blinding the minds of those who hear the gospel: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
- Second Corinthians 11:14 says, "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
- Ephesians 2:2 says lost sinners walk “according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”
- First Thess. 2:18 says, "Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us."
- First Thessalonians 3:5 says, "For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain."
- Second Timothy 2:26 says unsaved people are taken captive by the devil at his will and are rescued only by the grace of God.
- First Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
- If Satan is chained up now he must have a very long chain!
- And how can he be "walking about" if he is shut up in the bottomless pit (20:1-3)?
- In addition to premillennialism and amillennialism, another view is postmillennialism. This position used to be very popular but has been largely abandoned in recent years. Postmillennialists teach that Christ will return after the millennial kingdom. Therefore, they have a kingdom with no King!
- Walvoord says, "With the occurrence of the two world wars, postmillennialism suffered a severe reversal" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- The opening events of Revelation chapter 20 follow the battle of Armageddon (19:19-21; 20:1, 2).
- The book of Revelation is in chronological sequence and should be interpreted literally. The repeated phrase “And I saw” (20:1; cf. 19:11, 17, 19; 20:4, 11, 12) indicates the progress of the revelation.
- Revelation "chapters 19 and 20 constitute a unit and form one continued prophetic strain" (John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
SATAN WILL BE BOUND (20:1-3)
- John observes an angel coming down from heaven having the key of “the bottomless pit” (20:1; cf. 9:1, 2, 11; 11:7; 17:8).
- The same Greek word is translated as “the deep” in Luke 8:31. It is “the abyss," the home of demons and unclean spirits.
- The angel is said to have a great chain in his hands. In verse 2 the angel is seen laying hold of Satan and binding him for 1,000 years.
- In verse 3 we are told that Satan will be cast into the bottomless pit and its door will be shut.
- A seal will be placed upon Satan, making it impossible for him to deceive the nations until the thousand years have elapsed, after which Satan must be loosed for "a little season."
- This prophecy is easy enough to interpret. However, non-literalists have come up with ridiculous explanations. For example, one author wrote that "Satan was bound a symbol of the chain of evidence that has been coming to life for nearly a hundred years past, but mostly within the last half century, and is still coming to life, corroborating the truths of the Bible...We are living in the time when the many lengths of this chain are being brought forward for which to bind Satan; when he is securely bound a happy state of things will prevail, as for a long period of time, is indicated by the expression 'a thousand years'" (J. G. Encell, The Exiled Prophet, pp. 231, 32; cited by Walvoord).
- Therefore the "great chain" is not a literal chain but merely a "chain of evidence," and a thousand years is not a literal thousand years, but merely "a long period of time."
- This is not the proper way to interpret Scripture!
- People have asked how an angel (a spirit) can bind Satan with a physical chain. They believe that an immaterial being such as an angel or Satan cannot be bound with a physical chain.
- This is what we call the language of appearance, that is, John saw the angel with a chain in his hands. The Bible uses the language of appearance just as people always have. For example, we speak of the sun’s rising and setting, even though the earth, not the sun, is doing the moving.
- What Revelation 20:1-3 is teaching is that Satan will be rendered inactive during the millennium. That is the proper interpretation.
- John Walvoord says, "The fact that Satan is bound for a thousand years is confirmed by the multitude of passages dealing with the kingdom period in which Satan is never found working in the world" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- Satan will be very busy during the tribulation period, but he will be shut up in prison during the millennium.
- One of the notable features of Christ’s millennial kingdom will be peace, tranquility, and the absence of spiritual warfare.
- Isaiah 11:6 says, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them."
- Isaiah 11:9 says, "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."
- There are many other similar prophecies in the Bible which describe the peaceful conditions that will prevail during the millennial kingdom. This is largely because Satan will be bound for a thousand years.
- Also, Christ will rule with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15).
- "And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people" (Isaiah 2:4).
THE FIRST RESURRECTION (20:4-6)
- In Revelation 20:4, John says, "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them," but he does not explain who is actually sitting on the thrones.
- By comparing Scripture with Scripture, we can conclude they are the four and twenty elders who are said to reign on earth (cf. 5:10).
- The four and twenty elders represent the New Testament church. Second Timothy 2:12 says, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him."
- Most modern day Christians like the latter part of that verse -- "reign with Him" -- but do not like the part about suffering (cf. Rev. 20:4).
- A.W. Tozer said, "If I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity. The old cross slew men, the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it."
- Revelation 20:4 refers specifically to those believers described as “beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands.”
- These are the tribulation saints who will refuse to worship the beast and will refuse to receive his mark, and consequently will be martyred (Revelation 13:15-17).
- Other tribulation martyrs will include the “souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (6:9), the two witnesses of chapter 11, and the martyrs referred to in Revelation 12:11.
- Revelation 7:14 says, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
- Our Lord said in Luke 22:29, 30, “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
- The expression “they lived” (Rev. 20:4) implies that these believers will be resurrected and will live again.
- Our Lord said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
- Our Lord said in John 5:28 and 29, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
- This is the resurrection of life, referred to in verse 6 as "the first resurrection." The resurrection of damnation is described in verses 5, 11-15.
- Daniel 12:2 also refers to two resurrections. "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
- As I said earlier, one of the notable features of Christ’s millennial kingdom will be peace, tranquility, and the absence of spiritual warfare.
- Isaiah 2:4 says, "And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
- The United Nations has part of this verse engraved on the stonewall in front of their building. But they deliberately left out the first part of the verse -- "And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people."
- They say they want peace but they have rejected the Prince of Peace!
- Their goal of world peace and disarmament without Christ is helping to prepare the way for the antichrist.
- Now is the time to make sure you are saved.