Heaven on Earth Revelation 20:1-6

Rebekyah Brewer
This entry is part 34 of 39 in the series Revelation

34534In 1987 one of the top 100 billboard songs was a song by Belinda Carlisle called, “Heaven is a Place on Earth.”  The beginning of the song starts out with the chorus singing:

 Ooh, baby, do you know what that’s worth?
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth.
They say in heaven love comes first.
We’ll make heaven a place on earth.
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth.

 Heaven being a place on earth is a popular theme.  However in the sketching out of the idea of what heaven would like if it were on earth ideas vastly differ. For many, their concept of heaven on earth would be one in which their pursuit of their favorite pleasure would be completed inhibited and their enjoyment of it unending. This isn’t too far from the reality if heaven. However, the difference is that for the majority of persons this means the enjoyment of their favorite idol, their favorite sin, the absence of God. The reign and fulfillment of their own wants and will is their definition of heaven.

 The biblical picture of heaven is defined by the presence of God; it is where God lives, where He rules and where his will is carried out perfectly, continually and without hindrance. For many who do not count it their greatest pleasure and enjoyment to be in the presence of God now, and who take no pleasure in the idea of God’s will being carried out perfectly, who do not associate the greatest gift that heaven has to offer as being Jesus Christ, himself, heaven will be a disappointment. It is not their heaven.

There was a time, when the doctrine of heaven and the hope of heaven was taught and emphasized much more in churches then what is seen today. Christians were continually reminded that this world was not their home. We are called to be sojourners, tent-dwellers, aliens, soldiers in a land that is not our home. We live for heaven, a promise land not yet seen.  We are called to look for the return of Jesus Christ and to seek and store up our rewards for a future life, in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, where we will enjoy a life and a joy that truly endures and lasts forever.

 This pursuit of heaven is not as strongly emphasized as it once has been.  Instead we see a slight shift of focus where many churches today seek not the kingdom of heaven, the return of Christ, but seek to create a better world to live in, a heaven on earth. They no longer look for and emphasize the return of Christ and the heavenly kingdom but look to make earth a comfortable place to dwell for themselves and for the world at large as they emphasis a social gospel, tolerance, justice, elimination of global poverty, the environment, success, prosperity and other issues and topics more than they emphasize the Gospel, the need for sinners to repent and the ultimate return of Christ. Many of these are not bad in themselves, but it is when we seek God’s gifts first instead of seeking God Himself first that we go astray.

 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt. 6:33)

 I think all of us want heaven to be a place on earth. We want to enjoy the benefits of heaven now and do not want to face death, any kind of death, physical or self-denial to obtain it.

 However, the bible teaches us that there is no heaven, no eternal life, and no relationship with God except through the cross of Christ. That is a doorway. If we would have life then we must willingly lay down our lives.

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?  (Luke 9:23-25)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  (John 14:6)

 What does it mean to go through Christ in order to come to the Father?  It means we enter into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Our lives become one of making it our constant goal to abide in Christ.  This is our spiritual reality, our spiritual place where God says we are already. We seek to make this heavenly truth, our physical reality

 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:4-7)

 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 1:1-3)

 Our position is in Christ. Our life is hidden in Christ. Our hopes are in Christ. Our future is in Christ. Our Spirit is in Christ. Our strength is in Christ. Our wisdom is in Christ. Even our love is in Christ. Our lives center around Christ. We no longer live for ourselves or seek our own interests in this world but Christ’s and the advancement of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the Christian life.

 Those who say they are Christians but have no interest in Christ, in living their life for Christ, of laying down their life for Christ, of seeking the advancement of God’s kingdom in their life and in the world around them, if they have no love for the Father and his will and his ways and his people, how can Christ exist in them? They are anti-Christ even if they happen to call themselves a Christian. They are against Christ and against God and his ways. It is as Isaiah describes:

 “Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, (Isa. 29:13)

 Dying to this world, losing one’s life, giving away one’s life for the life of Christ, for the advancement of the kingdom of God, the cross of Christ is a stumbling block for many. It doesn’t compute. Everyone wants to go to heaven, but not everyone wants to sacrifice their life now for it. They want to life their life now as they please and have the kingdom of heaven at the end; however that is not what the bible teaches.  Even the bible today teaches to count the cost. The emphasis today even in much evangelism is having a better life now and we do not persuade people to count the cost of becoming a Christian. Only those who are missionaries in countries where professing faith in Jesus Christ in enemy lands where public profession often means punishment, imprisonment or even death often put the high emphasis on counting the cost before coming a Christian.

 This is just a reminder to us, to those who call ourselves Christians to examine ourselves, to see if we are in faith. Can we truly say that our life is not our own any longer but now belongs to Christ because of our salvation and deliverance? That our old life died? When someone asks us what difference has Christ made in our life, can we say all the difference – the difference of life and death?  Are we living for Christ and the kingdom of heaven where our treasure are stored up for us? Or are we living for the treasures of this world, the pleasures of this world, are we living for our self? Are we growing in righteousness, in humbleness and in the knowledge of God?

 There are many who believe that this world, is as good as it gets and seek to make this world their heaven, not only those who are lost but also many who are Christians and who proclaim Christianity. This is not to say all of them are lost. The Lord knows those who are his, many of those who have been deceived and because of this their impact for the kingdom of God, their enjoyment of God, the influence of others is greatly hindered.

 What is hindering your impact for the kingdom of Christ?

   Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pitand a great chain.

In verse one of Revelation 20 we are told that John sees an angel coming down from heaven. We are not told who this angel his. He remains nameless much like the rest of the mighty angels that are mentioned. As humans we have a strong tendency to over value things. I have a feeling that if the bible were to provide us the names of angels it is speaking of it would become a great distraction. Many would worship that particular angels name, make artwork of that angel, and draw attention to where attention is not intended to be drawn. It’s not about the angels. They are simply God’s agents, his messengers sent to carry his word and carry out his work. They are humble servants of the Most High and the majority remain nameless.

We see this particular angel coming down from heaven, coming down from the dwelling place of God. In the hands of this angel he is holding a key to the bottomless pit, much like the angel of Revelation 9. In Revelation 9:1 with the blowing of the fifth trumpet, John saw a star fall from heaven to earth, who is given the key to the shaft of the bottomless bit.  In Revelation chapter nine the symbol of a star is used to represent an angel. Instead of saying an angel perhaps the reason for this is so we are not confused with thinking this is one of God’s holy angels. The angel in Revelation 9 fell from heaven to earth and this angel in Revelation 20 comes down from heaven to earth. Both angels have been given authority. The angel in Revelation 20 was given authority to release locusts from the bottomless bit, which we interpreted to mean demons, fallen angels that were locked up; they were released for a short time to torment the people during the tribulation.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (2 Peter 2:4)

This angel in Revelation 20 bears a chain. What kind of chain this is unknown but we know it to be a great chain, big or ‘megas’ is the Greek word. It is intended to lock up and hold Satan.

And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

This angel lays hold of and seizes the dragon. He is not unrestrainable. Sometimes it may seem that way but God’s sovereignty is always much more powerful then Satan. When it is time for God to seize the dragon, that dragon will be seized. God’s great hand will grasp him by the neck and clasp that great chain around him.

The dragon in this verse is further defined as being that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan. There is no confusion who the dragon is and who he was as the ancient serpent starting in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 when he deceived Eve. Satan is that ancient serpent from of old.

Satan is bound temporarily for a short time, a thousand years or a millennium. The number of a thousand years in the bible is never used symbolically so most interpret this number to be literal. Satan will be bound for a literal thousand years before he is released for a short time. This time period is very much like a Sabbath rest. For six thousand years the earth and its inhabitants have been the slaves of sin and under the slave master of Satan and for the seventh period of a thousand years, the world rests and enjoys freedom. The world has been under Satan’s influence for a literal six thousand years, there is no reason to believe otherwise that the millennium period would be only symbolic and anything less than an actual thousand year period.

Now this is where a lot of debate begins between what is called pre-millennialism, postmillennialism and a-millennialism that we are going to discuss briefly.

This is one of those issues that we often refer to as open hand issues just like those who do and do not believe in the rapture and the differences in timing of the rapture on whether it is pre-tribulation or mid-tribulation. It is good to be in agreement with one another and to enjoy unity of belief, however, if we do not agree it does not necessarily mean one is heretical. There are essential doctrines and important doctrines in our faith. If one denies the deity of Christ, the trinity, sin nature we would have a huge issue on our hands. These are essential doctrines.  To believe anything else would be a different Christ, a different gospel preached and accepted.  When it comes to pre-millennialism, postmillennialism or a-millennialism there is room to disagree. These are important doctrines but we can land in different positions. One thing remains the same, we all agree that Jesus Christ is coming back, it’s just a matter of when.

We have seen how difficult it is to interpret the book of Revelation in a sequential matter. It has been very much like a giant tapestry or a great musical where certain scenes are played over and over again and intensified. Some see the return of Christ from Revelation 19 that we studied last week and the reign of Christ in Revelation 20 as separate events instead of continuous events.

As Baptists we teach and believe in what is called pre-millennialism that is that Christ will return before the millennium begins. Jesus will rule a literal one thousand years on earth in Jerusalem while Satan is bound. In a literal interpretation of the book of Revelation that is what is most easily seen and clearly taught. This is where both I and Penny land I would easily say the majority of your Pastors probably will also. It is the most widely held belief and not just within the Baptist denomination.

Postmillennialists believe however that Christ does not return to reign until after the millennium. Jesus reigns after the thousand years are over.  That is what post means, after. Postmillennialists believe that the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of Christ will be ushered in by the church by the spread of the gospel. They teach that Christianity will increase and increase and the gospel will spread until the majority of people are Christians and then once this happens, Jesus Christ will return. Postmillennialists do not believe in a literal one thousand years. Instead they believe that a thousand years is symbolic for an indefinite time period.

Postmillennialists teach that the world will become a better and better place to live as  more and more persons become Christians and as the church eventually overcomes the world and enjoys a Golden Age marked by peace and justice. Most do not believe the church will experience a time period of apostasy, a falling away of the church, but limit this to the Jews and their denial of the Gospel and of Christ.

They teach that Satan is already bound and that he has been bound since Christ’s victory on the cross over two thousand years ago.  This leaves us with a couple of questions:

            Is the world becoming a better and better place to live?

            Is Satan bound? Is he no longer influencing our world today?

Turning on the news shows that this world is not increasing much in the area of godliness. Our study in the book of Revelation shows that terrible times and terrible events will increase like birth pains. They will hit a climax like the world has never seen before in the time of Jacob’s trouble during the great tribulation.

Also, scripture would lead us to believe that Satan is not currently bound. We have too many warnings to be on our guard against him and his schemes. Consider the following verses:

            Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. (2 Thess.  2:18)

                Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Cor. 2:11)

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Eph. 6:11)

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8)

While we are not called to fear Satan for he is a defeated enemy, his defeat is as good as done, although he is not yet bound, he will be.

The third position is amillennialism. The prefix “a” in amillennialism means “no,” so amillennialists believe in “no thousand years.” Amillennialists also deny a literal one thousand year physical reign of Jesus Christ on earth. Like the postmillennialists, the amillennialists also believe that Satan has already been bound since the cross and they also see the thousand year time period as a symbolic meaning for an indefinite time period instead of a literal one thousand years.  Amillennialists teach that the millennium has already begun. They teach that it began with Jesus’ victory on the cross and is essentially the same as the church age. The church has been reigning as the kingdom of heaven on earth and there is not an actual millennium period. Christ rules his earthly millennial kingdom spiritually from heaven. Jesus will return at the end and judge the world and set up his physical kingdom then.  Amillennialists also believe that Satan has already been bound since the cross like the postmillennialists.

As premillennialists we believe that there will be a literal one thousand years that Jesus Christ physically reigns on this earth with his saints who he brings with them and those who survived the tribulation and those who were martyred on his behalf according to verse 4 which teaches they will come back to life and reign with Christ a thousand years.

 During this time period there will be no devil or his demons to deceive and influence the world.  No antichrists. Christ will rule the nations with a “rod of iron” from Jerusalem.  It will be a time period of great peace for Israel and for the entire world.

1  But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted;And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. (Micah 4:1-7)

 There will be no more war: No more fighting for kingdoms.

1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.2 ????????It shall come to pass in the latter days ???????that the mountain of the house of the LORD ???????shall be established as the highest of the mountains, ???????and shall be lifted up above the hills; ???????and all the nations shall flow to it, ???3 ????????and many peoples shall come, and say: ???????“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, ???????to the house of the God of Jacob, ???????that he may teach us his ways ???????and that we may walk in his paths.” ???????For out of Zion shall go the law, ???????and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. ???4 ????????He shall judge between the nations, ???????and shall decide disputes for many peoples; ???????and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, ???????and their spears into pruning hooks; ???????nation shall not lift up sword against nation, ???????neither shall they learn war anymore. ???5 ????????O house of Jacob, ???????come, let us walk ???????in the light of the LORD. ??? (Isa 2:1-5) ESV

  It will also be a time where longevity of life has returned and where the effects of sin on creation are reversed. The lion and the lamb will be at peace and live in harmony with one another. The animals will return to be vegetarians. The land will sprout and produce harvest abundantly. Much like the land of Israel returns to his abundant state when the nation of Israel resides in it but becomes a wasteland when another nation takes its territory, so the earth will flourish once it’s Lord is in its midst especially the nation of Israel.

 20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord. (Isa. 65-20-25)

 

 11 ????????“In that day I will raise up ???????the booth of David that is fallen ???????and repair its breaches, ???????and raise up its ruins ???????and rebuild it as in the days of old, ???12 ????????that they may possess the remnant of Edom ???????and all the nations who are called by my name,” ???????declares the LORD who does this. ???13 ????????“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, ???????“when the plowman shall overtake the reaper ???????and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; ???????the mountains shall drip sweet wine, ???????and all the hills shall flow with it. ???14 ????????I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, ???????and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; ???????they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, ???????and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. ???15 ????????I will plant them on their land, ???????and they shall never again be uprooted ???????out of the land that I have given them,” ???????says the LORD your God. ???  (Amos 9:11-15)

 6 ????????The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, ???????and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, ???????and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; ???????and a little child shall lead them. ???7 ????????The cow and the bear shall graze; ???????their young shall lie down together; ???????and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. ???8 ????????The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, ???????and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. ???9 ????????They shall not hurt or destroy ???????in all my holy mountain; ???????for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD ???????as the waters cover the sea. ??? (Isa. 11:6-9)

Imagine all the world will worship Jesus. No more false teaching. No more false prophets. No more heresies.

23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. (Isa. 66:23)

1 “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.2 “And on that day, declares the LORD of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more. And also I will remove from the land the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness. ??? (Zech. 13:-2)

The Millennium will be a time when great holiness prevails all across the world.

1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isa. 35)

However this will not be a time of sinlessness in the world. Men will still be able to sin, men will still sin, however they will no longer still be deceived. It will be a matter of their own self will.

If men sin during the millennium it will not be on account of having been deceived. It will be simply because of self-will and the yielding to the lusts of their own hearts. For we need to remember that the kingdom age is not to be a dispensation of sinlessness. There will be some, even in that blessed time, who will dare to act in defiance of the will of God but they will quickly be dealt with in deserved judgment. Such cases, I take it, will be very exceptional, but Scripture makes it plain that there will be offenses even when God’s King reigns over the earth. (Ironside)

Can you imagine such a world as described? Under perfect rulership, ruled with perfect justice and wisdom. A world where peace reigns not only between the nations and kingdoms, but also among people and between the animals. Animals that were once enemies now walk side by side. A world where wars and rumors of wars do not exist. Can you imagine world that has longevity of life, where illnesses are rare? Babies don’t normally die. Cancer is a thing of the past? Famine is no more and food is furnished in abundance.  Can you imagine raising children in such a world? Can you imagine growing up in such a world? Can you imagine never knowing the pain of the widespread effects of sin when sin is able to rule?

Sin will unfortunately still exist, however it will be dealt with justly, wisely and with love. Evil will not be able to deceive as it has in the past, to expand, to rule and to spread as it has. It will be dealt with swiftly and justly.

Why does there need to be a millennial kingdom on earth? Verse 3 will tell us that Satan must be released for a little while. Why must he be released for a little while? Why can’t we just go to heaven and enjoy our victory and leave Satan chained or just throw Him in the lake of fire immediately? Can’t we just skip the millennial period? Why is it important?

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.

The angel threw Satan with his chain and all into the pit. He not only shut it over him but sealed it over him showing that his imprisonment has been secured. What Christ seals and shuts no one can open and what Christ opens no one can shut. As Matthew Henry says, “Christ shuts by his power, and he seals by his authority.”  Satan is not going anywhere until his thousand year prison sentence is over, then Satan must be let loose again.

Why is the Millennium period important?

The Millennium period is important because it is promised that Christ will rule along with the saints. (Dan. 7:23-27)

And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdoms shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them. (Dan. 7:27)

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! (1 Cor. 6:2-3)

The Millennium is important because it will reveal the depth of man’s rebellious nature against God. We often tend to think if only our environment was different. If only we had grown up differently or if that person would not have been abused or had to grow up in that environment perhaps he would have been different. Perhaps he would have been a better person given the appropriate opportunities, role models and so on. If only he was not deceived but was given a clear choice and view. Satan is the great deceiver and blinds the mind of people so that they cannot come to the knowledge of the truth. What happens when you take Satan out of the picture? What happens when people can no longer blame Satan? What will we and this world look like then?

This will be the perfect environment for children to be raised in and yet some will still reject God. They will be forced to obey because of society, peer pressure, law and order but the law of God is not loved in their hearts. Their environments have changed but their hearts have not.

The Millennium will also show the great depravity of Satan, even after being conquered, seized by the neck, chained and locked up for a thousand years, he has not had a change of heart. He comes out the same as he went in, there is no changing him. He is still intent on devouring God’s people, deceiving them and overthrowing God. He is released from prison an unchanged spirit.

The Millennium will also show the invulnerability of God’s kingdom and the new world order. There will no more attacks after this final attack after the 1,000 years.  In this God will show his glory that his King and his rule will not fall.

This period is an additional extension of God’s grace. It’s an extension for people to see the goodness and perfection of God and his ways through the reign of Jesus Christ. However some people will not be with God with their whole heart. The release of Satan and his deceptive tactics and organization skills will draw out those who are not with God in their hearts. It will bring them to the surface and they will be destroyed with Satan. Their love for sin, the depravity of the heart is difficult to be seen, God sees it, but man does not see it. God draws it to the surface so that it can be judged righteously and God’s righteous judgment can be clearly seen.  He could just go ahead and destroy them but that is not God’s way, instead he allows Satan to draw out what is already planted and hidden in men’s hearts. It is a time of a final cleansing because after this there will be a new heaven and a new earth and men and women will no longer be given in marriage. Our choices to follow God will be sealed and made.

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

John sees thrones and seated on those thrones are those to whom the authority to judge was committed. We are not told specifically who they are; we are just given the information that it is those who were given the authority to judge. We are not even told how many thrones there were that John saw, unlike Revelation 4:4 when we saw the twenty-four thrones of the Elders around God’s throne. We were given a specific number there. These are thrones on earth and show just like the Beast had given power and authority to rule to those under him when he had the ten kingdoms, and just like many kings, presidents, governors, companies do today when they have the authority, they pick and give authority to others of their choosing at their will.

Christ will also give authority to whoever it pleases him and to those whom he has promised to.  Christ has promised that the saints will rule with him and all those who overcome the Beast will rule and reign with Christ.

 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt. 19:28)

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! (1 Cor. 6:2-3)

26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. (Rev. 2:26-28)

The martyrs, those who were beheaded for Christ and suffered with Christ received the special privilege of reigning with Christ during this 1000 year period. The rest of the dead are not resurrected yet.

The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.

The first resurrection is the resurrection that precedes the ultimate resurrection, the rest of the dead.

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.(John 5:28-29)

The events of the first and the second resurrection are separated by a thousand years.

Who takes part in the first resurrection?  The first resurrection is the granting of life in resurrection bodies to all those who are dead in Jesus Christ. This is the resurrection to eternal life with Jesus who was the first fruit (1 Cor. 15:20). The Old Testament saints that were raised and appeared to many people in Matthew 27:50-53 were a part of this first resurrection. A promise of more to come.

50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:50-53)

The rapture of the church and the resurrection of the dead in Christ are also a part of the first resurrection.  As we saw last week, the church will return with Christ as his bride in his Second Coming.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thess 4:13-18)

Also the Old Testament saints are part of the First Resurrection.

 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:1-2)

13 And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord. (Eze. 37:13-14)

Those who have been martyred, who were beheaded by the Beast and suffered for Christ will also be a part of the First Resurrection.

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  (Rev. 20:4)

Who are the rest of the dead? Some commentators believe that at this time it is only the resurrection of the wicked who are left in the second resurrection of the rest of the dead. Others say that there will be righteous and wicked in this second resurrection because it was only the martyrs who were given the special privilege of being raised early and reigning with Christ in the Millennium period.

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

We are told blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. They have no fear of the second death, no fear of ever being separated from God again and once again we are assured that they will reign with Christ for a thousand years.

 The second death is the death of deaths, it is the one death to be feared and it is the death that many if not all those raised in the second resurrection will face. For those who desire no life with God, they will be given their hearts desire and they will spend eternal life without God.  The end of Revelation chapter 20 tells us:

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire, this is the second death. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:14-15)

Next week we will go over more about the loosing of Satan and the Great White Throne judgment.

Series NavigationOur Warrior King Revelation 19:11-21Coming Soon! Revelation 22:6-21

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