Studies in Daniel and Revelation, Part 12

Revelation 20

Revelation chapter 20 deals with two exciting topics: the Millennium and certain judgments that will take place at the beginning and at the end of the Millennium. There is a segment of the Church that objects to the doctrine of a literal kingdom of God on the Earth for a thousand years because they say the term “Millennium” is not found in the Bible. On that point they are quite correct; you may search high and low and you will not find the word “Millennium” in either Testament. Of course, the words “Trinity,” “Incarnation,” “substitution,” “Sonship,” and “impeccability” are also not found the in the Bible, yet those doctrines are not disputed by any branch of orthodox Christianity. Just because a certain term for a doctrine is not found in the Bible does not prove or disprove that doctrine’s validity.

The word “millennium” refers to an expression found over half a dozen times in chapter 20; it simply means “a thousand years,” nothing more. A millennium is a measurement of time, just like “century” refers to 100 years, “jubilee” refers to 50 and “decade” to 10 years. The word itself is not particularly significant in its meaning; in fact, over six millennia have passed by since Adam and Eve. The last thousand years before the Eternal State is referred to as “the Millennium,” and is in reality just another dispensation.

The word “dispensationalism” refers to a particular way of reading Scripture that recognizes the different ages (or dispensations) and corresponding ways God deals with man. Since the earliest days of man on the Earth, God has related to man during the dispensations of Innocence, Conscience, Self-Government, Family (Patriarchal) Promise, Law, and finally the dispensation in which we are now living, the dispensation of Grace. Each of these dispensations may be viewed as a time of “testing” for man. At the end of each dispensation in his history, man has failed the test miserably, proving that he is a hopeless sinner in need of salvation. The Millennium will be the final test for man; Satan will be bound for the duration and it will be a time of peace and blessing with Jesus Christ Himself ruling. At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be set free one last time for a very brief time to vent his hatred upon man. Once again, man will be tested and will fail; the root of sin will have been so entrenched in the soul of man that even after a thousand years of personally experiencing God’s richest blessings, with no tempter or temptation to sin, and living in God’s presence, he will follow Satan and rebel. God will have no choice to destroy the human race, as He did during the dark days of Noah. Then God used a flood to wipe man out. He promised He would never do that again, so next time God will purge the Earth with fire:

By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)

1. The binding of Satan, verses 1-3

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

The binding of Satan is first event of Christ’s reign of righteousness. As with much of Revelation, there is a lot of symbolism in these three verses. Regardless of the symbolism employed by John, he is describing a literal event: Satan will be forcibly removed from the face of Earth and thrown into the Abyss, where he will be incarcerated for a thousand years. Imagine a world in which there is no Devil and no temptation to sin. If people do sin during the Millennium, it be as a result the sin that lurks within their hearts, not as a result of outward temptation. The Millennial Kingdom will not be sinless, but it will be righteous.

See, a king will reign in righteousness. (Isaiah 32:1a)

2. Characteristics of the Millennial Kingdom

  • Form of Government. When Jesus Christ returns as King, He will establish a Kingdom. It will not be a monarchy, or a democracy, not an autocracy; Christ’s kingdom on Earth will be a theocracy. This means God Himself will rule in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ (Luke 1:32—33; Daniel 7:13—14). There is abundant Scriptural evidence that David, from whose line Christ came in the flesh, will have a part in the government of restored Israel as a prince or vice-regent (Hosea 3:5; Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 37:24—25). Christ promised the disciples that they would also be rulers in His kingdom, each sitting on and governing the tribes of Israel from a throne (Matthew 19:28).
  • Seat of Government. The world’s capital will not be in Washington DC or London or any of the great cities of the world today, but Jerusalem. Today, Jerusalem is an ancient, apparently insignificant and sometimes despised city, but when Christ returns, it will be restored and rebuilt and then the Psalmist’s vision will become reality, Psalm 48:1—3, and also Isaiah 2:2—4.
  • The Millennial Land. Scripture is a bit ambivalent as to the extent of the millennial land which Israel will occupy. It is certain that the grant of land promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:18) was never fully occupied by Israel even during the glory years of David and Solomon. Most scholars see Israel’s boundaries extending to at least the boundaries established during Solomon’s reign if not beyond them to include the whole peninsula of Arabia. Scriptural support for this notion can be found in Deuteronomy 11:24 and Ezekiel 47:18.
  • The Millennial City and Allotment of Territory. Ezekiel 48:1—35 gives the apportionment of land to the twelve tribes of Israel in broad bands extending from east to west with the tribe of Dan on the north and ending with Gad to the south. Between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin is a parcel of land known as the Holy Oblation, about 60 square miles in size, in which will be located the millennial city in the southern area. Just north of the city will the Temple, about one mile square. Land for the priests and Levites who will serve at the Temple is reserved.
  • The Millennial Temple. In Ezekiel 40—48, the prophet details a most remarkable vision of the millennial order, both religious and civil. In particular, he gives a detailed description of the Temple, including its inner and outer courts, the construction of the main building, the Temple services, the work of the priests and the worship of the people.

3. Subjects of the Kingdom

Like any other nation, there will be all kinds of people who form the nation and others who will be subjects to the Kingdom. Some human beings, many millions, in fact, will continue to live in the Kingdom forever.

He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:14)

After the skirmish at Armageddon and the judgment of the nations at the Second Coming, there will be people and nations who will make a journey annually to worship the Lord and to keep the Feast of Tabernacle. It is these people and their children who will populate the Earth during the Millennium. The subjects of the Millennial Kingdom will not be the wicked dead who will be raised to life and given a second chance, as some teach. They will simply the millions and millions of human beings left alive at the Second Coming.

There will, of course, be laws in the Millennial Kingdom. There were laws in heaven before man was created, Adam was given laws to follow, and, in fact, laws will govern all of eternity. During the Millennium, there will be many sinners so God will naturally have His laws proclaimed and enforced. Even during the Millennium, man will have the freedom to exercise his free will, and therefore laws will be needed to govern their choices.

The Millennial Kingdom will be a literal nation on Earth with all kinds of people living in it. Some will be unconverted sinners who, even though they may have kept the laws of the land, will rebel and follow Satan when he is loosed after 1,000 years. Anyone who has been born again during the Millennium will not rebel against God. That there will be sinners and evil people living during the Millennium is evidenced in these passages: Isaiah 2:2—4; 11:2—4; 11:3—5; 16:5; 65:20; Psalm 2:6—9; Micah 4:3; Zechariah 14:16—21; 1 Corinthians 15:24—28; Revelation 20:7—10. In fact, many will be executed during the Millennium because of committing sins worthy of death, Isaiah 11:3—5; 16:5; 65:20.

As to the location and condition of all the other nations of the world during the Millennium, it seems that, with the exception of those nations currently occupying land promised to Abraham and his descendants, the nations of the world will exist as they do today.

4. Spiritual conditions during the Millennium

(a) Spiritual outpouring. The great prophecy of Joel concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit was only partially fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost and is only partially fulfilled today. During the Millennium there will be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on man such as has never been experienced before and when that happens we will see manifested the gifts of the Spirit in a pure and unrestricted way (see Joel 2:28—32; Isaiah 32:15—20; 44:3; 59:21; Ezekiel 36:25—27; 39:28—29; Zechariah 12:10—13:1).

(b) Universal knowledge. Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14; Zechariah 8:22—29.

(c) Jewish missionaries. Isaiah 2:2—4; 40:9; 52:7; 61:6; 66:18—21; Zechariah 8:23. The Jewish people will become missionaries of the Gospel and priest of the Law during the Millennium and beyond. For the very first time in their history, the nation of Israel will perform the work God originally intended for them to perform.

In 1 Corinthians 15:24—28, Paul teaches that the purpose of God’s government is to end all rebellion in the universe, not just on Earth. But being just and fair God, He will not pass judgment without giving people a chance to repent and change their ways. This is why the Gospel will need to be preached all over the world.

(d) Common religion. Malachi 1:11; Zechariah 14:16—21; Isaiah 2:2—4; Joel 2:28—31; Jeremiah 31:31—36. As a result of vigorous missionary activity during the Millennium, most people will worship God; they will go to church and read the Word of God in their own language.

(e) Manifest glory of God. A cloud of glory will hover over the Millennial temple. Previously, the glory left Israel because of he sin and rebellion, but it will return when she is restored to her rightful relationship to God.

(f) Salvation for all who repent.

(g) World-wide righteousness, holiness, and justice; Isaiah 1:26—27; Jeremiah 31:23; Zechariah 14:16—21.

(h) Supernatural healing and health. Isaiah 32:1—5; 33:24; 35:3—6; 53:5; Matthew 8:17. God will start the human race out as He did Israel when they came out of Egypt: He healed them all and they were all healthy (Psalm 105:27; 107:20).

(i) Yearly pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Zechariah 14:16—21.

(j) A new and eternal covenant. Isaiah 59:21; Jeremiah 31:31—34; Ezekiel 34:25; 36:26—27; 37:26; Romans 11:25—29.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd
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