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Revelation Twenty

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

 

 

 

   
     

 

 

 REVELATION TWENTY
by L.R. Shelton, Jr.
 

Chapter 1


My friend, it has been upon my heart for some time now to bring a series of messages on the 20th chapter of Revelation, seeking the understanding of the Holy Spirit to enable us to rightly divide the Word of truth. I believe these messages are in order at this time because of the wide-spread misunderstanding in Christendom in regard to this very important chapter of Godís Word. A correct understanding of the truths contained in this chapter will cause the child of God to praise his risen Lord for all He has done for Him in giving him SO GREAT SALVATION. Will it not encourage our hearts to know that we, the true Israel of God, the children of God, rule and reign with Christ right now? and to know that when Satan is loosed for a little season, we will have as our hiding place the living God Himself in Jesus Christ our Lord?


When rightly understood, this chapter opens to us THE GLORY OF OUR BLESSED LORD AS HE RULES AND REIGNS NOW from His throne in the heavenlies. Herein we see our Lordís victory at the cross in conquering sin, Satan and the world, His triumph over death, hell and the grave, and His final triumph when all His enemies are made His footstool at His glorious second coming, that day we long for as the children of God. So I desire that you will listen to this series of messages with an open Bible and an open mind, praying the Lord to let you see and know that Godís people are a victorious people, a people who are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him that loved us, and that Christ sits and reigns upon the throne even now as THE CONQUERING ONE.


Now as we give a commentary upon this chapter of 15 verses, we will seek to answer the following questions and many, many more from the Word of God in this series as our God by His Holy Spirit gives us understanding: What does the binding and loosing of Satan mean? When does it take place? What does the "thousand years" mean? When does Christ rule and reign with His saints and for how long? What does "the first resurrection" mean, and why are those called "blessed and holy" who have part in it? What is "the mark of the beast"? How does this compare with Rev. 13? What do these beasts represent? Why could they not buy or sell that didnít have the mark of the beast? When does the "Great White Throne Judgment" take place and how does it compare with the other judgments mentioned in the New Testament? What is the "second death"?


Follow in your Bibles then, as we read this chapter in its entirety: "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were 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; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.


This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison. And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

 

INTRODUCTION


I believe this chapter can be divided into four natural divisions: First, THE BINDING OF SATAN, vv. 1-3; second, the REIGN OF CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS, vv. 4-6; third, THE LOOSING OF SATAN FOR A LITTLE SEASON, vv. 7-10; and the fourth, THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT of the entire world before the wicked are cast into the lake of fire for ever and ever, vv. 11-15. And my friend, to help you rightly divide this most misunderstood chapter, as we study I want you to keep in mind this great fact: This chapter covers, not only the future, but the present and the past also! THIS TRUTH IS THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING ALL THAT IS CONTAINED IN THIS CHAPTER. Therefore, I have entitled this series of messages, A COMMENTARY OF REVELATION 20-PAST-PRESENT-FUTURE.


Now before we take up each division in our study, let us understand that what we have before us in this chapter is a picture of what transpires from the first coming of Jesus Christ our Lord to His second coming. It pictures the binding of Satan by our blessed Lord at His first coming; it pictures the rule and reign of Christ and His saints during this gospel age in which we are living; and it pictures the loosing of Satan at the end of this age for a little season to again deceive the nations. And when will this take place? right before the glorious second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, when "Öall 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" (Jn. 5:28-29). Then shall take place the final judgment of the world when our Lord shall sit upon the Great White Throne to judge every man "Öout of those things which were written in the books, according to their works", which we will study further in vv. 12-15 of this chapter, and also in these verses in I Cor. 15:24-26: Then cometh THE END, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For HE MUST REIGN till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."



A Book of Symbols


Another thing we need to understand as we go into our study is that THIS CHAPTER IS SET IN A BOOK OF SYMBOLS, and we must interpret it in the light of the rest of Godís Word. We must compare Scripture with Scripture to arrive at the truth the Holy Spirit would have us to learn. For instance, the first three verses contain seven symbols, namely: a key, a bottomless pit, a great chain, a dragon, a serpent, a thousand years, and a seal. If we took every one of these literally, weíd be in a lot of trouble! We must use Scripture to determine just what the Holy Spirit is giving us so we may rightly divide the Word of Truth and see if the interpretation is spiritual or material or natural (I Cor. 15:46). I believe the Word of God is plain upon this, for you see dear friend, we are not to give a literal versus a spiritual interpretation to Scripture, but rather a spiritual versus a natural interpretation; and the Scriptures tell us whether or not the Word is being spiritualized, or whether or not it is giving us a material or a natural thing in its interpretation.


Listen now! We are certainly indebted to the Holy Spirit for interpreting two of the symbols found in the first three verses, and thereby we have a good indication how to interpret all of the other symbols in this chapter. Letís read those first three verses: "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the KEY of the BOTTOMLESS PIT and a great CHAIN in his hand. And he laid hold on the DRAGON, that old SERPENT, which is the DEVIL, and SATAN, and bound him a THOUSAND YEARS and cast him into the BOTTOMLESS PIT, and shut him up, and set a SEAL upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season."


You see, verse 2 tells us that the symbols of "dragon" and "serpent" mean the "Devil" and "Satan". And then the expression "bottomless pit" is interpreted for us in vs. 7 where it says, "when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his PRISON." So we find that the "bottomless pit" is interpreted as "Satanís prison".


With these truths to go on, we will quickly understand that we are to give these verses a spiritual interpretation; therefore, it behooves us to seek diligently the aid of the Holy Spirit to know His meaning of these verses and to seek help from the rest of the Scriptures.
Now bear with us as we lay our groundwork in this introduction, that we might be able to move on from here to the interpretation of these verses. Thereís one other thought I want to bring before you before we go into this interpretation: We must eliminate all the things our friends, the pre-tribulationists, pre- millennialists and the dispensationalists, have read into these verses. I want you to notice very closely that nothing is said here about a regathered Israel in Palestine; nothing is said about the restitution of Israel as a nation in covenant relation with God; nothing is said of Israel as a political commonwealth among the nations of the earth, nothing is said of Jerusalem as the world capital after the second coming of Christ; nothing is said of Jewish racial supremacy over the Gentile nations of the world; and nothing is said of the saints reigning on the earth after the second coming of Christ. My dear friend, none of these things are seen in these verses; in fact, they cannot be found anywhere upon the pages of the New Testament! Therefore, to see these things in these verses, they must be read into them; and to come to these Scriptures with any preconceived ideas, is to come up with a FALSE interpretation!


REMEMBER: the key that unlocks the great truths in this chapter is to interpret it in the light of what it really teaches: the past, present and future, which takes in the time from the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as the conquering Savior of sinners at the cross, through this present age in which we are living, unto the glorious second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the future age that is yet to come. And weíre going to prove without a shadow of a doubt from the Word of God that when our blessed Lord comes Back the second time, THAT ENDS THIS WORLDíS HISTORY: thatís the finish; THAT WILL BE THE DAY OF JUDGMENT!
 

Seven Divisions to Revelation


Listen now! This 20th chapter of Revelation forms part of the 7th division of the Book of Revelation and follows the same arrangement or division as the other six divisions; that is, each one of the seven divisions of the Book of Revelation covers the entire span of the gospel age from the first coming to the second coming of Christ. In other words, just as the four gospels beautifully portray varying accounts of our Lord while on earth, so in the Book of Revelation we see seven views of the same subject, the entire gospel age.  Letís see if I can describe it: Hereís a farm house-picture it in your mind! You take a picture from the front of the house and then from the back and each side of the house; then you go up in a plane and take a picture from above the house. The house is the object of every picture, but there are different views of that one object. Well, this is the understanding and interpretation of the Book of Revelation; each of its seven divisions presents a different view of the same subject: this present gospel age in which we are living, which began with the first coming of Christ and ends with His glorious second coming. Study this out for yourself, and see if you can see the arrangement as we give you the outline:


1) In chapters 1-3 we see Christ in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, His church; and wherever there is a church (His called out ones), it is a lampstand or light-bearer. So we see the light of Christ shining in the midst of the darkness. We are told in Matt. 5:14: "Ye are the light of the world", and in Matt. 28:20 that He, Who is our Light, would be with us: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
 

2) Chapters 4-7 show us the open book with the seven seals. Wherever the church shines forth as the light-bearer, then the world hates the church, for the darkness refuses to be conquered by the light. Then persecution follows; also trials of every description. These trials however, are overruled for the good of the church, because we see in the beginning of this division the throne that is set in heaven, not on the earth; so believers are ever victorious, for weíre told in Jn. 16:33: "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD."


3) In chapters 8-11 we see and hear the seven trumpets of judgment. Wherever and whenever the church is persecuted, the Lord hears and answers the prayers of His persecuted children. He sees the blood of the martyred saints. Therefore, trumpets of judgment warn the wicked, as we are told in Luke 18:7:" And shall not God avenge his elect, that cry to Him day and night?"


4) In chapters 12-14 we find the woman and the man-child persecuted by the dragon and his helpers, the beast, the false prophet and the harlot. We find in these chapters that the struggle on the surface between the church and the world, only indicates a deeper struggle between Christ and the dragon. We are told in Gen. 3:15: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."


5) Chapters 15 and 16 show us the seven bowls of wrath opened up and poured out upon the earth. For the impenitent, bowls of wrath always follow trumpets of judgment. This is true today; it was true yesterday and it will be true tomorrow, no matter what part of the earth you live on, or what strata of society you live in. We are told in Rom. 2:5-6: "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds."


6) In chapters 17-19 we find the fate of the great harlot, the beasts and the false prophet. It seems that Satan and all his helpers are victorious, but in reality they are always defeated, "for the Lord God OMNIPOTENT REIGNETH" (Rev. 19:6). We are told in I John 2:17: "And the world passes away, and the lust thereof."


7) Then in chapter 20-22 we find the judgment upon the dragon-Satan-which began at the cross; and then we see the end of this age with the new heavens, the new earth and the new Jerusalem. We find Paradise regained, and Christ with His church in complete glorification upon the new earth, which is the fulfillment of Rom. 8:37: "We are more than conquerors through him that loved us."  With this outline in view, remember that this Book of Revelation sets forth Christ as the victorious One as He rules and reigns over the world in behalf of His church in the midst of her persecution and tribulation. While on the one hand it pictures the trumpets of judgment and bowls of wrath that have been poured out upon the earth because of sin during these many centuries, POINTING TO THE LAST JUDGMENT at the end of this age (Rom. 2:5-6); yet on the other hand, it reveals the grace and mercy of God in Christ, as the choir of heaven and earth sing: "Thou art worthyÖ)for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev. 5:9-10). Then finally it pictures Christ and His church, His people together in victory triumphant: "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful" (Rev. 17:14).
 

THE BINDING OF SATAN


Since these divisions are in progress at the same time, running parallel to each other, we know that what we have here in Rev. 20 is another view of what has already been given us by the Holy Spirit in the other six divisions of the Book. So we begin with the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in this division, and in vv. 1-3 we see Him binding Satan at the cross so Satan could no longer deceive the nations and keep the gospel from being preached to the whole world. (And weíve been in this gospel age (vv. 4-6) for nearly 2000 years now!) But let us look more particularly at the first three verses as we endeavor to answer the following questions: Who was the one who bound Satan? When did this binding of Satan take place? How is he bound? How long will he be bound? And why must he be loosed a little season? I pray, as we study, that God will be pleased to open your eyes as He has mine to see and understand the PRESENT REIGN OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WITH ALL AUTHORITY as the Lord and King of this world, Who is now dealing with the world in longsuffering and in mercy as He calls out His people for whom He died upon the cross.
 

The Angel is Our Lord


Listen now! In these verses then, we have before us an earthly scene: "And I saw an ANGEL come DOWN FROM HEAVEN, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and BOUND HIM A THOUSAND YEARS." The Angel Who binds Satan is none other that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The time of this binding was at His first coming, for when He came into this world, He entered into the "strong manís house" for the purpose of taking from him "his armour" and "spoiling his house" (Matt. 12:28-29; Luke 11:20-22). In Matt. 12:22, as our Lord was CASTING THE DEMONS OUT of one possessed, He was accused by the Pharisees of casting them out by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. But in vv. 28-29 He told them, "But if I CAST OUT DEVILS BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong manís house, and spoil his goods, except he first BIND the strong man? and then he will spoil his house." Luke 11:21-22 gives us these words on this same subject: "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a STRONGER THAN HE shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and DIVIDETH HIS SPOILS."


Now the word used in Matt. 12:29 for "binding the strong man" is the same one used in Rev. 20:2 where SatanÖthe strong oneÖwas "bound for a thousand years" that he could deceive the nations no more; for ChristÖthe "stronger than he"Öhad entered into the strong manís house, bound him and spoiled his house. This work of binding the devil was begun when our Lord triumphed over Satan in the temptation in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11); as a result, Christ began to cast out demons with His Word (Matt. 8:16). The power and influence of Satan over the deluded masses in the nations was beginning to be curtailed as Christ "divided his spoils". And He continued to bind Satan till He "bruised his head" (Gen. 3:15) at the cross; for in John 12:31-32 our Lord said, "Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world (Satan) be cast out, and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." Beloved, this is exactly what our Lord did at the cross! He cast Satan out; that is, He bound him so he could no longer deceive the nations and keep the gospel from going to the four corners of the earth. In Col. 2:14-15 it is said that our blessed Lord blotted out "the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, TRIUMPHING OVER THEM in it." And He triumphed over them all at the cross; He is the ALL POWERFUL ONE!


Listen now, that you may understand this truth: God had dealt with only one nation in Old Testament times, namely Israel, leaving the other nations to be deceived by Satan; but now Satan was being bound by our Lord, so he could not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years be fulfilled, and that the gospel of the grace of God should be preached in His name unto all nations, beginning there at Jerusalem. So our Lord Jesus could say after His resurrection (listen now!): "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and TEACH ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world", or the end of this age (Matt. 28:18-20). And we go forth, teaching and preaching, witnessing and evangelizing IN THE AUTHORITY AND IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS Who bound Satan, that the Word of God and the gospel of the grace of God could reach out to the four corners of the earth!
His Purpose Was to Bind Satan  My friend, the Scripture is plain as to our Lordís PURPOSE for coming into this world. It was two-fold: first, to "destroy the works of the devil" (I Jn. 3:8), "that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14-15); and second, to bind Satan during this gospel age so the gospel message might reach His elect. And thatís the message of these first three verses of Rev. 20!
 

The Key is His Authority


What then, is the KEY to the bottomless pit, of which Rev. 20:1 speaks? The KEY in Scripture means authority. Listen to Rev. 1:18 where our Lord said, "I am he that liveth, and was dead: and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; AND HAVE THE KEYS OF HELL AND OF DEATH." In this we see that our blessed Lord has AUTHORITY over hell and death, and therefore is the Angel of vs. 1 Who had the authority to bind Satan. As Eph. 1:20-23 tells us, God has "raised him (Christ) from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, FAR ABOVE all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." I Pet. 3:22 also brings this out, that Christ has "gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; ANGELS AND AUTHORITIES AND POWERS BEING MADE SUBJECT UNTO HIM."


We read in Matt. 16:19 how our Lord gave the KEYS (authority) of the kingdom to the apostle Peter: "And I will give unto thee the KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." And under the power of the Holy Spirit, the apostle used these KEYS (this authority) to open the kingdom to the Jews on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, to the Samaritans in Acts 8, and to the Gentiles in Corneliusí home in Acts 10. Again we see how Satan, being bound, could not stop the gospel-the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16)-from reaching the elect of God!
Beloved, I praise God that He not only has the keys of death and hell, but He has the key to the heart of every man! If I didnít believe that, I would never preach again. He had the key to my heart, for by the power of His grace and the convicting power of His Holy Spirit, He turned me unto Himself for time and for eternity. And this is my hope in preaching the gospel of the grace of God-that it will go forth in power. He has the key to open your heart, to let you see that youíre lost, under the judgment of God, and in need of a Savior, a Deliverer. And only He has the power-the power of the gospel, the power of His blood-to save, to keep and deliver you from your sins for time and eternity.
The Chain is the Faith of Christ


How is Satan bound? We must remember that since Satan is a spiritual being, the "chain" that binds him must be something spiritual; it cannot be something material. So if we would think of the chain in the same way as we do of the shield, the helmet and sword of Eph. 6, we would surely be on safe ground that avoids needless speculation, and allows Scripture to interpret Scripture. Therefore, just as true faith is a shield that will quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one, so also faith in action is the "chain" that will and does bind Satan. As the perfect Man, our Lord while on earth lived such a perfect life of faith in God and His Word that Satan was defeated at every attempt he made to prevent the Savior from fulfilling His mission. Through our Lordís victorious life, death, resurrection and ascension to heaven, Satan was beaten and his power broken. As far as the believer is concerned then, the devil is a defeated foe, and the shield of faith keeps that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, at bay!


Satan Still Exerts His Influence


But I must hasten to add this: Satan has not been made impotent, though he has been chained these many years, for his influences have not been abolished or completely destroyed. On the contrary, within the sphere in which Satan is permitted to exert his influences for evil, he rages furiously. Let me illustrate! A dog securely bound with a long, heavy chain can do great damage within the circle of his imprisonment, but outside of that circle, the animal can do no damage nor can he hurt anyone. Therefore Satan cannot hurt Godís child, even though he comes at us as a roaring lion (I Pet. 5:8) or as an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14); and Rom. 16:20 tells us that we shall bruise him under our feet shortly. Even now we are "MORE THAN CONQUERORS through him that loved us" (Rom. 8:37)!

THE ALL CONQUERING ONE


Oh what grace the Lord has shown to poor sinners like you and me, to bind Satan so the gospel could reach His elect, to destroy the works of the devil and to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, so we could be delivered from going down to the pit! And Satan is definitely and securely bound during this gospel age, in that he has not been able to keep the church from preaching the gospel to all nations, as it is written, "NOW is the accepted time, behold: NOW is the day of salvation" (II Cor. 6:2)! So my friend, when our blessed Lord comes the second time, ETERNITY BEGINS; that will end this worldís history as you and I know it. Therefore, to offer any soul a hope of being saved after the second coming of Christ is pure deception; the Bible holds out NO HOPE OF ANY SINNER BEING SAVED AFTER HIS SECOND COMING! And weíll establish this truth further as we go along.


It should rejoice the heart of every child of God to read and meditate upon this Book of Revelation! Do you know why? this Book pictures the Lord Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, the ALL-CONQUERING ONE, as He rules from His throne in heaven during this gospel age. It does not picture Him as sitting idly by, waiting for some future date to be a King on an earthly throne in Jerusalem for a thousand years, OH NO! It pictures Him as the One Who received His throne when He returned to glory after His resurrection, and therefore He rules right now in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth"-and none can stay his hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?" (Dan. 4:35).


Also this Book of Revelation pictures the people of God (you and I who know Him) ruling and reigning with Him right now; thatís why it is said of us that in all things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us (Rom. 8:37). Yes my dear friend, right now, midst all the judgments, plagues, adversities, calamities, wars and upheavals that we know are in the world today, even midst all the oppression that we feel, the people of God can say, "We can overcome through Him that loved us, for we rule and reign with our blessed Lord and King even right now! Even though all of these plagues come upon us, God is our Fortress and our Strength; for our King and our Lord Who lives within us rules and reigns upon the throne!"

THE "THOUSAND YEARS"


We now come to the expression "the thousand years" in vv. 2 and 3: "-and bound him A THOUSAND YEARS, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till THE THOUSAND YEARS should be fulfilled; and after that he must be loosed a little season." What does this mean? Are we to understand as so many do today, that this is a literal thousand years, reaching from the second coming of Christ unto the Great White Throne Judgment? No my friend, the Bible does not warrant such an interpretation. You cannot find a system of teaching throughout the New Testament that says Christ will reign upon this earth for a thousand years at Jerusalem after His second coming with all His saints ruling and reigning with Him!


Let me illustrate what I mean; If you take the doctrine of faith, youíll find it throughout all the New testament-in our Lordís teachings, in the Acts and in the Epistles. In other words, you can work it as a system of truth throughout the New Testament. You can do the same with the doctrine of grace, of the cross of Christ, of justification or sanctification; these all can be worked through the New Testament. Again, you can take the doctrine of prayer, or of Jesus as Lord, the sovereignty of God, of Godís great elective purposes, of the judgment of God upon sin, of heaven or of hell-all of these great teachings of Godís Word-and work them through the Gospels, the Book of Acts and the Epistles-all through the New Testament. But not so with the system of Christís millennial rule at Jerusalem that is taught today! You cannot find in your New Testament that a temple ordained by God will be built that shall again have animal sacrifices offered upon it to God! In fact, you will find just the opposite in Heb. 10! You cannot find that Israel as a physical nation will once again be dealt with by God and will have supremacy over the entire world, especially the Gentile nations. Dear friend, what you will find is the opposite of all this!


If youíll search the Scriptures for yourself, this is what you will find: youíll find that our blessed Lord and all the writers of the New Testament hold before our view HEAVEN, THE NEW EARTH, AND BELIEVERS WITH NEW BODIES SERVING THE LORD IN HOLINESS AND PURITY. I have listed here 90 Scriptures in the New Testament, and every one of them have to do with heaven, the new earth, our new bodies, and serving the Lord in holiness and purity. Not a one speaks of a reign upon earth after the second coming of Christ, with Him sitting upon a throne in Jerusalem. My friend, you wonít find it! With this thought in mind, work through your New Testament and see what you find: Matt. 5:12; 19:21; 25:34,46; Lk. 20:34,35,36; Jn. 5:28,29; 10:28; 12:26; 14:1,2,3; 17:22,24; Rom. 8:22,23; I Cor. 15:42-57; II Cor. 5:1-5; Eph. 2:5-7; Phil. 3:20,21; Col. 1:5,12; 3:4; I Thess. 2:12; 4:17; II Thess. 1:6-10; Heb. 10:34; 11:10,13,14,15,16; 12:22,23,24,28; I Pet. 1:3-5; II Pet. 1:11; 3:13,14; Rev. 3:7,21; 4:4; 5:9; 7:9-17; 14:1-4; 21:1,2 and 22:1-5.


Now someone would ask me about Matt. 19:27-30 which speaks of the Son of man sitting upon the throne of His glory, and His apostles sitting on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. I would say yes, that is there. But those verses of Scripture must be interpreted in the light of vs. 28 which says this shall be done "in the regeneration". Listen to me now! This expression refers, not to a reign upon this earth as we know it today, but to the reign of our Lord IN HIS ETERNAL GLORY and His apostles reigning with Him IN THE RESTORED OR RENEWED UNIVERSE; that is, in the regeneration or the rebirth of the heaven and the earth in eternity after our Lordís second coming as so clearly brought out in II Pet. 3:10-14, Rev. 20:11, and Rev. 21:1-5. Youíre following us, arenít you? I want you to study these Scriptures that you many know these great truths for yourselves!


My friend, not only am I on good Biblical grounds with this interpretation of Rev. 20 and the rest of Scripture on this subject of the end times, but I am also standing on the ground where our forefathers stood, for this teaching is the historical church view! Read the old writers as I have done, and you will see that this is the historical church view that I am setting forth in these studies.  I was deeply enmeshed in the pretribulation rapture of the saints and the pre-millennial return of Christ for years, (and I know this system of teaching as well as anyone does), but when the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the truth of Godís Word concerning THE PRESENT REIGN OF CHRIST, I was made to see that these teachings did not agree with Godís Word. When I began to see that what Iíd been taught had only been promulgated since 1833 and had been given forth as truth based upon a womanís vision, and a manís intellectual reasonings, I was made to praise the Lord for opening my spiritual eyes to the truth of His Word which glorifies and honors Him.  If you will write for it, I will send you a book entitled THE GREAT RAPTURE HOAX, which gives the origin of this theory which is so wide-spread today in Christendom.

The Meaning of the Word "Thousand"


All right, what does the expression "the thousand years" mean? According to other Scriptures, the word "thousand" is used to show VASTNESS or a LONG PERIOD OF TIME. To the law and to the testimony, let us compare Scripture with Scripture. In Deut. 1:11 we read that the word "thousand" is used as an indefinite number. Listen! "The LORD God of your fathers make you a THOUSAND TIMES so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!" How is this word "thousand" used here? Now we do know that there were approximately 3 million Jews to whom He was speaking there in the wilderness. So if we multiply that by a thousand, we come up with 3 billion; and there have never been 3 billion Jews upon this earth, from our Lordís time until now.


Again, the word "thousand" is used in the same manner in Deut. 7:9: "Öhe is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a THOUSAND GENERATIONS." Now if we take a generation to be 33 years, then a thousand generations would be 33,000 years; and this earth as we know it has only been in existence not quite 6,000 years.
Also in Psa. 50:10 we see this word used in the same manner: "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a THOUSAND HILLS." We know that there are more than a thousand hills in this country, and that all the cattle belong unto the Lord, but we see here that the word "thousand" is used to convey the idea of many, or the whole or vastness. So this is the way it is used here in Rev. 20: it signifies an indefinite period of time from our Lordís first to His second coming. Weíve been in this period of the binding of Satan and the reigning of Christ for nearly 2,000 years already, since our Lord first came into this world; and the end of the thousand years, this indefinite period, comes with the condemnation of Satan to the lake of fire. Thus John, the writer of the Book of Revelation, shows the thousand years to be synonymous with this gospel age; in other words, you and I are today living in Johnís thousand years, the only true millennium, the period between our Lordís first and second coming.


My friend, to me the positive proof that this interpretation is true is found in the word "thousand" itself. In all six times that it is used here in Rev. 20 it is used in the plural form and should read, "thousands of years" which, as we have seen, signifies an indefinite period of time. My authority for this is The Analytical Greek Lexicon, and Thayerís Greek English Lexicon. So I know I am on good Biblical grounds in my interpretation of this word "thousand"!

THE REIGN OF CHRIST
AND HIS SAINTS
FOR THE THOUSAND YEARS


Dear children of God, as we read the Book of Revelation, let us lift up our heads and hearts unto Him and give thanks, because this Book was written for us as well as to the first century Christians, for one reason: to encourage our hearts in the Lord. It was written to show us the end of all things, to let us know that our Lord Jesus Christ is PRESENTLY REIGNING and is KING of kings and LORD of lords, THE ALL CONQUERING ONE; and that because we are in Him, we can never be defeated-we are more than conquerors with Him against sin, the world, the flesh and the devil. Listen to Rev. 17:14: "These (all the enemies of God and of His Christ) shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for HE IS LORD OF LORDS AND KING OF KINGS: and they that are with him (all of His people) are called, and chosen, and faithful" and there is NO DEFEAT in the army of God!  Now as we go into our study of the reign of Christ for the thousand years and the first resurrection, read with me vv. 4-6 of Rev. 20: "And I saw thrones, and they set upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were 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; and THEY LIVED AND REIGNED WITH CHRIST A THOUSAND YEARS. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. this is the first resurrection. BLESSED AND HOLY IS HE THAT HATH PART IN THE FIRST RESURRECTION: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

The View Commonly Held


First I want us to notice that these are the only verses in the Bible to which the millennialists appeal to back up their claims of a thousand-year reign of Christ upon this earth in its present condition; but dear friend, the things they claim are going to happen in the thousand years are very silently absent here in these verses! The Jews are not named in this chapter, neither is anything said about their restoration to the land, their conversion or their activity as missionaries during such a period of time. I want you to notice that neither Jerusalem nor Palestine, nor the earth is mentioned, for it is a heavenly scene! So an earthly throne is not to be found in this chapter. There is nothing here about righteousness prevailing as millennialists assume will be true in their future millennium. Not a word is said about universal peace or abounding prosperity. The productivity of the earth is not mentioned; there is no reference to longevity or the end of toil and suffering, usually supposed to be a part of the millennial experience. None of these are mentioned in this chapter!

The Silence of the New Testament


My dear friend, are not these omissions significant, especially since we cannot find them taught by other New Testament writers? And yet, is it not true that the average Christian takes it pretty much for granted that all these things are to be found in the 20th chapter of Revelation? Over and over we hear people say, "Well are not all these things found in Rev. 20? thatís what weíve been taught." But, you canít find them there! You may surely find these things in the books of men, but not in the Book of God.

Thrones in Heaven


What, then, do we find in verses 4 and 5? We find a HEAVENLY SCENE. These thrones and souls mentioned here are in heaven, for if you will search out the Book of Revelation, you will find that the throne of Christ and His people is always set forth as being in heaven. Twenty two times in the Book of Revelation, the throne of God, the throne of the Lamb and the throne of the saints is said to be in heaven: 1:4; 3:21; 4:2-6,9,10; 5:6,7,11; 7:15,17; 8:3; 12:5; 14:3,5; 16:17; 19:4,5; 20:4,11; 21:5; 22:1-3.  Notice also that John saw the SOULS, not the bodies of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God (vs. 4). Therefore this scene must be this side of the resurrection of their bodies, for our Lord Himself states very clearly that the resurrection of the dead does not take place till the "last day" (Jn. 6:39,40,44,54). He tells us four times in the 6th chapter of John: "I will raise him up AT THE LAST DAY." And my friend, if it is the last day can there be any other day after the last? or seven or a thousand years? NO! Godís Word speaks of the last day as being the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ back to earth again and the day of the resurrection of the dead.  The Scriptures also teach that at the death of the body, every child of God is taken to be with Christ (Phil. 1:23) to await the resurrection of their bodies; therefore they are "absent from the body" and "present with the Lord" (II Cor. 5:8). For here in Rev. 20:4 we find them REIGNING WITH CHRIST, sitting with Him in His throne (Rev. 3:21). "For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet" (I Cor. 15:25).
 

THE PRESENT REIGN OF CHRIST


Now I especially want you to grasp this truth: The Word of God presents the Lord Jesus Christ as RIGHT NOW reigning upon His throne in Heaven! Heís not waiting for a throne; He is Already enthroned! This is a subject that rejoices my soul every time I think of it. I want you to listen! Brother Peter so clearly brought this out on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. If you will analyze his sermon, you will see that it all has to do with the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ. In vs. 30 he tells us that David was a prophet, for he prophesied of this in Psa. 16: "Öknowing that God has sworn with an oath to him (David), that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne: (David), seeing this before spoke of THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption." And Peter told them, "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore, BEING BY THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath shed forth this, which you now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens, but he saith himself, (Psa. 110:1), the LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool." This is exactly what Heb. 10:12-13 says, "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, SAT DOWN ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool." You see, He is sitting upon Davidís throne now, the SPIRITUAL THRONE IN HEAVEN! Now watch Peterís conclusion to this sermon in Acts 2, which was the burden of his message; "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (vs. 36) Heís King, Heís Ruling and reigning NOW; so His throne is in the heavens! and in the heart of every child of God.

Five Irrefutable Proofs


Further, in I Cor. 15:22-28 we find five irrefutable proofs that Christ is ruling and reigning NOW on Davidís spiritual throne, and that Godís children (those who have died in the Lord and we who remain) are reigning with Him in the Spirit. FIRST, in vs. 22 He tells us that as all men die physically in Adam, so in Christ all shall be made alive and shall rise physically-with a physical body-because Christ rose from the dead and He rules over all: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." SECOND, in vs. 23, the resurrection will take place at the second coming of Christ: "But every man in his own order; Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christís at His coming." And my friend, this tells us that there are not half a dozen resurrections! The only physical resurrection of the whole world spoken of in the Word of God is the resurrection at the second coming of Christ (John 5:28-29).


THIRD, in vs. 24 we find that this resurrection will be at the end of the world: "Then cometh the END." Dear friend, thereís no time space between the second coming of Christ and the end; theyíre together! And this is when eternity is ushered in. You see, itís as unbiblical to offer salvation AFTER the second coming as it is to offer salvation AFTER DEATH! (In other words, thereís no difference between probation after death and probation after the second coming of Christ.) This verse plainly declares that His coming ENDS all things as we know them today: "Then the END, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and authority and power" (vs. 24). (You will notice I omitted the word "cometh" which is in italics, because it wasnít in the original!) This verse, above all others proves the present reign of Christ, for it is when the end comes that He will deliver up the kingdom to God. You see, this is the present kingdom of God that we are instructed to seek first with all our hearts (Matt. 6:33): "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness." The kingdom of God is the authority and rule of God in Christ: for Christ-the Person of Christ Who is ruling NOW-is the righteousness of God. He is ruling and reigning NOW as His reward for becoming the God-Man, the Savior of sinners, and dying in the place of His people. He arose triumphant over the grave as our Justifier, and ascended to the right hand of the Father as our personal Representative and our Righteousness before God; He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, sitting upon His throne, ruling and reigning until all His enemies are made His footstool.
Fourth, vv. 25-26 tell us that with the resurrection of the dead, the last enemy, death shall be destroyed: "For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. THE LAST ENEMY THAT SHALL BE DESTROYED IS DEATH." We see then that the destruction of death is put at the END of His mediatorial or millennial reign and not at its beginning! Now if our dispensational friends were correct in telling us that Christ will destroy death at the beginning of His millennial reign, death could not have been destroyed at the second coming of Christ, because they also tell us that people are going to be born and will die during the millennium!


FIFTH, vv. 27-28 clearly bring out that Christís reign is BEFORE the resurrection of the dead, and not after it; and that it is WHILE His enemies are being subjected that He is ruling and reigning, and not after their subjection. "For he hath put ALL THINGS under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." We also find here that Christís work as Mediator will be brought to an end, because the exercise of this office belongs to the temporal sphere; it is bound up with the subdual of this world; and it is therefore when the kingdom is returned to the Father, then the glory of Christ is made complete in His humanity: "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9).


My friend, to place these verses of I Cor. 15:22-28 from one to a thousand years after the resurrection that takes place at the second coming of Christ, is to utterly destroy their meaning and to do away with Paulís argument for the resurrection of the human body, which is the subject of the entire chapter of I Cor. 15. Yes, the Scriptures teach the PRESENT REIGN OF CHRIST (Acts 2:31- 36; Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:15-20); for Christ is now sitting upon the spiritual throne of David, crowned with glory and honor, both in heaven and on earth. In heaven angels and authorities and powers are made subject unto Him (I Pet. 3:22), and on earth He has power over all flesh (Jn. 17:2; Rev. 1:5). This is what Revelation 20 is teaching us, not that Christ is waiting for a time in the future to reign literally here upon a partially restored earth from Jerusalem! Nowhere in the Scriptures are we held out the promise of a partially restored earth; rather, in Rom. 8:18-23 we are told that all creation groaneth and waiteth in travail for the appearance of the sons of God at the second coming of Christ when, after the judgment, there will be the new heavens and the new earth. And the message of the entire Book of Revelation is a message of victory, a message of glory, a message of the ruling and reigning power of our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who cannot be defeated; for He NOW rules in the lives and reigns in the hearts of His willing people and in the midst of His enemies, waiting until all His enemies shall be made His footstool (Psa. 110:1-3; Psa. 2; I Cor. 15:25; Heb. 10:12,13). Hallelujah, glory to our God that He is unconquerable! And Godís people, who rule and reign with Him now (Rev. 2:26-27) are more than conquerors through Him that loved us!


Let us look at Rom. 8:18-23 in a little more detail: "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."  I do not hesitate to state that these verses have nothing whatsoever to do with any supposed earthly millennium. those who believe in a literal, physical, material millennium here upon earth, emphasize that this will be a temporary condition lasting a literal thousand years, and that it will be followed by a state of conflict, sin and confusion when the devil will be released again. But there is no suggestion whatsoever of a temporary state in the account which is given here of the glory that is awaiting both the sons of God and the whole creation. What is described here is the entire deliverance of the whole creation from the bondage of corruption; not a temporary deliverance, but a final, permanent and complete deliverance.


In verse 18 the apostle tells us to reckon, or reason that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us at the coming of the Lord. He tells us in vs. 23 that as the creation groans to be delivered from the bondage of corruption-that which is brought on by manís sin-so the children of God groan in this body of sin, this body of humiliation, waiting for the redemption of our body when we shall forever be delivered from the very presence of sin.  Then in vv. 24-25 the apostle tells us to patiently wait for this new body, for this is our hope as the children of God. Our hope is not that of a partially restored earth for a thousand years, but a completely restored earth wherein we will dwell with our Lord in our new bodies. To apply these verses to a temporarily restored earth, is to utterly destroy the apostleís argument for the complete glorification of the believing people of God at the resurrection and second coming of Christ.

THE FIRST RESURRECTION


Now this living and reigning with Christ is called "the first resurrection" (Rev. 20:4-5); and I want to show you from the Word of God that this is a spiritual and not a physical resurrection! Our Lord told Nicodemus that to enter the kingdom of God a man must be BORN OF THE SPIRIT, so from the study of the Scriptures we must believe that the first resurrection takes place at the time of the NEW BIRTH, when the soul passes from death unto life; it is then that the redeemed soul stands on resurrection ground. Col. 3:1 speaks of the spiritual resurrection when it says we are "risen with Christ"; and so does Eph. 2:4-6: "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, HATH QUICKENED US TOGETHER WITH CHRIST, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." And what are we doing? Weíre living and reigning with Him! Rev. 20:6 says, "For blessed and holy is he that hath part in the FIRST RESURRECTION", which is that passing from spiritual death into spiritual life by the Holy Spirit of God.
To show you that Iíve not taken this interpretation out of thin air, and that this is "thus saith the Lord Himself", look with me at the words of our Lord in John 5:24-25: "Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE. Verily, verily I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." What was our blessed Lord talking about here? He was saying nothing more or less than that a man lies spiritually dead in trespasses and sins and must be made alive by the quickening power of Godís Holy Spirit, here called "the voice of the Son of God." He is saying, "When I speak, the dead are hearing my voice right now, and when they hear my voice, they come forth from the dead. And, believing on Him that sent me, they have everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but have passed from death unto life." And Eph. 2:1 says, "For you hath he quickened, (you hath He made alive, you hath He raised from the dead) who were dead in trespasses and sins." So we find then, that SALVATION IS A RESURRECTION FROM THE GRAVE OF SIN which must be effected by God Himself; and therefore the first resurrection spoken of in Rev. 20:5 is one and the same: salvation, the resurrection from the grave of sin!


No wonder God calls that man BLESSED who is a partaker of the first resurrection (Rev. 20:6), because he is blessed with this SO GREAT SALVATION which God has been so pleased to pour upon those who have been born again by the Spirit of God! This, my friend, includes the forgiveness of sin, the giving of a new heart, a new nature, a new life; and this puts within us a new hope. In this first resurrection, the power of sin is broken and we are given the right to be called the children of God; we are clothed upon with the perfect righteousness of Christ, and stand before God justified by the blood of Christ, made holy in the Lord Jesus Christ, adopted into the family of God, filled and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, and thus enabled to walk in the only way, the narrow way that leads to heaven, glory and perfection (that is, the way of righteousness and true holiness) as we await our new bodies from heaven! Therefore, to know Christ in His resurrection power of grace (Eph. 1:19-20) is the greatest thing that can ever happen to a poor, lost, hell-deserving sinner!


My friend, do you see how you and I have been robbed these many years of these gracious blessings? Weíve been robbed of the truth by those who say that the resurrection is a physical resurrection belonging only to a certain number, and after that there is something else and yet something else! This false teaching would corrupt our minds from the simplicity that is in Christ (II Cor. 11:3) because it brings confusion, and God is not the author of confusion (I Cor. 14:33). By the first resurrection from the grave of sin (in the new birth), a poor sinner is raised to walk in newness of life in Christ. And Rom. 5:17 says, we now "REIGN in life by one, Jesus Christ." Blessed is the man that hath part in the first resurrection, for the second death hath no power over him. Why? Because he has been raised up and made to sit together with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6); so the second death, which is the separation of the damned from God forever in the LAKE OF FIRE ( Rev. 20:15; 21:8), has no power over him. So the child of God NOW REIGNS with Christ, and is among those who are "more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Rom. 8:37).


In Rev. 20:4 we see the souls that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, living and reigning with Christ in heaven. And when did they begin to reign with Him? long before they were beheaded, while yet they were upon earth, when they were accepted in the Beloved and seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus as Rev. 5:9- 10 tells us, "ThouÖhast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and HAST MADE US UNTO OUR GOD KINGS AND PRIESTS: AND WE SHALL REIGN ON THE EARTH." So as they reigned in Christ while they lived on earth, they continue to live and reign with Christ after death. For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (II Cor. 5:8).


Now you may ask, "Pastor, how does the believer reign even now in Jesus Christ?" Listen! It is by sitting together with Christ in heavenly places, for we are a "chosen generation, a ROYAL priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people"; that we should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light; which in time past were not a people, but now are we the people of God, which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy (I Pet. 2:9-10). We now reign over and have victory over the world by faith (I Jn. 5:4), as Gal. 1:4 tells us, He has delivered us from this present evil world. We reign, in that sin no longer has dominion over us (Rom. 6:14); its power has been broken and we have been freed from its authority (Rom. 6:17,18,22). So as sin reigned unto death, even so now-praise the Lord-GRACE REIGNS in us through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom. 5:21). And as Heb. 2:15 tells us that we are delivered from the fear of death, we reign even over death with all its fears because we have part in the first resurrection. For "blessed are the dead which die in the Lord" (Rev. 14:13); the second death-spiritual death in hell-has no power over us who are in Christ Jesus! (Rev. 20:6).

Further Proof


But the one portion of Scripture more than any other, that the Lord used to enlighten me as to the truth of these verses (4-6 of Rev. 20) is John 11:23-26: "Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" To me these verses of Scripture are proof positive that the first resurrection is a spiritual and not a physical resurrection. Our Lord was saying, "I give resurrection life (spiritual life) in myself; though one is dead in trespasses and in sin, yet shall he live; he shall be resurrected from being spiritually dead. And whosoever lives spiritually, having trusted Me for salvation and eternal life, shall never die the second death in hell for his own sins-believest thou this?" "Yes, Lord, I believe, for it is truth!" These verses speak of the sinner being dead in sin, but now, resurrected to new life in Christ; he therefore is the blessed man, for the second death has no power over him.  The "first resurrection" then, concerns only those who are BORN AGAIN by the Spirit of God, who are here called BLESSED AND HOLY. The body, not being raised till the last day, indicates that the first resurrection is a SPIRITUAL experience (Jn. 6:39,40,44,54), which begins at the new birth, is revealed to us in conversion, and worked in us by the Spirit of the living God.

The Doom of the Spiritually Dead


But what about "THE REST OF THE DEAD" mentioned in verse 5, "who lived not again until the thousand years were finished"? What the Scripture is telling us here is that those who live and die without Christ-who do not have part in the first or spiritual resurrection, who are still in spiritual darkness and deadness-will remain spiritually dead until the time of our Lordís second coming when they shall have part in the physical resurrection (John 5:28-29). Then they will be brought before Christ, the Judge, at the Great White Throne Judgment where they will be sentenced to the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15); which is the second death. Listen further to Rev. 21:8: "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the LAKE WHICH BURNETH WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE: WHICH IS THE SECOND DEATH." And, my dear friend, they will stay in this spiritual darkness forever and forever!


Take your Bible and search it out my friend, and you will find that this is truth! Then ask the Lord to search out your heart in answer to the following questions: Do you know anything of these truths in your own soul? Have you had part in the first resurrection, and are among the number of those who are called "blessed and holy"? You are, if you have been born again by the Spirit of God, and the second death shall have no control over you. But if you have not been born again by the Holy Spirit, then you abide under the wrath of God and the second death and hell shall surely find you out! Oh that God would deliver us today is my prayer.
 

(Click Here For Chapter 2 of this series on Revelation Twenty)

 

 

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