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#45 The Millenium And The Second Death

September 4, 2008

 

We come now to probably the most controversial passage in scripture, not because of anything in the word of God, but because of what men do with it. You wouldn’t believe the theories that people have come up with to explain this one section of scripture. In fact, this is where all of the “millennium” positions hang their respective hats. And they all think they are right, dogmatically right.

 

What I propose to do today, as we have done throughout this series, is take the word of God at face value declaring the obvious meanings and bowing to the mysterious, admitting that I don’t understand everything.

 

And let me make one thing perfectly clear, I don’t believe that anyone this side of heaven really knows everything, no matter how intelligent they are or how much they boast that their position is right. We must bow to the scripture which tells us that now we know in part, now we see through a mirror darkly. When we get to heaven then we will know as we are known, then we will see face to face.

 

Having said all of that I will begin this morning by giving you an brief outline of chapter 20 and then we will work through it point by point. The outline is as follows:

 

  1. An angel comes down from heaven and binds Satan for a thousand years. (He is to be released for a short time at the end of the thousand years.
  2. Judgment thrones are set up.
    1. We see the resurrection of the souls of those beheaded for their faith. Martyrs.
    2. They reign with Christ for a thousand years.
    3. This is the first resurrection.
    4. The wicked dead remain in their graves till the end of the millennium. They will rise to face judgment and the second death.
  3. Satan is released to deceive the nations.
  4. He gathers an army to fight against God and His people.
  5. They are destroyed by fire and Satan is cast into hell.
  6. Great White Throne Judgment.
  7. The second death.

 

That is the basic outline of the passage. As you can see, there are mysteries here such as; when will these things take place. One commentator named Pareus begins the thousand year millennium at the destruction of the Jewish temple in  A.D. 73, and ends in Pope Hildebrand, who stepped into that chair of pestilence, A. D. 1073. Others begin it at the birth of Christ, and end in Pope Sylvester II. Still others start at Christ’s passion, and end in the reign of Pope Benedict IX. John Trapp begins at Constantine and ends in Pope Boniface VIII, who is said by his own people to have entered like a fox, reigned as a lion, and died as a dog. He excommunicated the French king, and published this decree, that the Bishop of Rome ought to be judged of none, although he should carry innumerable souls with him to hell. Now history proves that these men were wicked and committed great atrocities against mankind.

But they were ‘antichrists’, not the final “man of sin spoken of in the Word of God!” These are historical facts. But should we look to a past fulfillment of prophesy? In keeping with the context of this book I am inclined to think not. My reasoning is from the scriptures themselves. In (Rev 1:19) our Risen Lord said to John, Write, therefore, what you have seen, what John had experienced, what is now what he was experiencing and what will take place later…what our Heavenly Father was about to show him concerning the future. I believe that what we are seeing here in our text is “what will take place later.

 

Last week we saw in chapter 19 the defeat of the antichrist and his army, the casting of antichrist and the false prophet into the lake of fire and the slaughter of the antichristian army by the spoken word of Christ. This hasn’t happened yet. It is still future. And so what we are reading here is tomorrow’s news. The enemies rage for the moment. God’s tarrying has made them bold, arrogant; they are becoming more monstrous every day.

 

But we know the end of the story don’t we. We are seeing the end of wicked. It may not happen in our lifetimes. Then again it might. God’s timetable is set by God. From eternity past He has appointed the day of Christ’s return (Jude 1:15)  to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”. Ac 17:31  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.  (Isa 59:19) So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. (Pr 6:15) Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy. The end of the wicked is fixed in the immutable decrees of God from all eternity. His enemies will fall and there will be no one to help. What a horrifying day that will be for those who now rail against such a gracious and Holy God who has demonstrated such love to a hateful world.

 

In verse 1 of chapter 20 we see the capture of the king of all sinners… “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, this is a holy angel, a servant of God. And He was holding the key of the abyss “here is a great illustration of Who it is that judges, Who it is that has authority. God is the keeper of the keys.

 

Consider two passages that speak of God’ authority over His creation.

(1Sa 2:6) “The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.

(De 32:39) “See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand. We know that the devil is but a tool in the hand of God to accomplish His holy purposes. Yes the devil is a powerful being but he is finite and God is infinite! He is created, God is the Creator. There is only one God. “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” (Isa 40:22)

God rules over the affairs of His creation perfectly. Nothing escapes His rule for He has ordained all things from the very beginning. We read in (Re 4:11) “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” God has decreed what the devil will do and how far he will be able to go for God is truly Lord of His creation. The devil will be used as the hammer of God’s judgment against all those who reject His Son Jesus Christ. And then, like Hazael, Jehu, the Philistines and other wicked entities that God used to punish sin, the devil will be dealt with for his wickedness. We see this in our text here.

 

God sends an angel down with the key to the abyss…and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; notice that there is no struggle for there is nothing that the devil can do against the will of God. And so the devil is seized and bound by the angel 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

 

We must not lose this meaning of the binding of Satan. The binding angel was one with authority: he had the key to the bottomless pit. He comes with a great chain {96} in his hand. This bottomless pit is not the same as the lake of fire and brimstone. This bottomless pit is not the place of eternal punishment. This binding of Satan is for a period of time. The purpose of God in this binding of Satan was for a limited time. He should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled. The nations under consideration are God’s people of every kindred, nation, or tongue. God uses the decline of civilization to work His purpose.

 

At this time I want to share John MacArthur’s comments concerning verses 1-3. He says, “This is the first of 6 references to the length of the millennial kingdom (vv. 2-7). There are 3 main views of the duration and nature of this period: 1) Premillennialism sees this as a literal 1,000 year period during which Jesus Christ, in fulfillment of numerous OT prophecies (e.g., 2 Sam. 7:12–16; Ps. 2; Is. 11:6–12; 24:23; Hos. 3:4,5; Joel 3:9–21; Amos 9:8–15; Mic. 4:1–8; Zeph. 3:14–20; Zech. 14:1–11; Matt. 24:29–31,36–44), reigns on the earth. (The scripture does not say that Christ will reign with His saints on the earth, only that He will reign with them! The scripture does say that we will be caught up to be with Him in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord!)

 

“Using the same general principles of interpretation for both prophetic and non-prophetic passages leads most naturally to Premillennialism. As you can see John is a pre-millennialist. Another strong argument supporting this view is that so many biblical prophecies have already been literally fulfilled, suggesting that future prophecies will likewise be fulfilled literally. (I am inclined to agree with a more literal approach because even when symbolic language is used, there is a reality behind the symbol.)

 

The next position is called Postmillennialism.  

Postmillennialism understands the reference to a 1,000 year period as only symbolic of a golden age of righteousness and spiritual prosperity. It will be ushered in by the spread of the gospel during the present church age and will be brought to completion when Christ returns. According to this view, references to Christ’s reign on earth primarily describe His spiritual reign in the hearts of believers in the church. (Post millenialists believe that as the gospel is preached, the world will get better and better until it is fit for Christ’s return.)

 

“Amillennialism understands the 1,000 years to be merely symbolic of a long period of time. This view interprets OT prophecies of a Millennium as being fulfilled spiritually now in the church (either on earth or in heaven) or as references to the eternal state. (I just don’t know that you can ‘explain away’ everything you don’t understand by saying “its symbolism”.)

 

MacArthur concludes: “Using the same literal, historical, grammatical principles of interpretation so as to determine the normal sense of language, one is left with the inescapable conclusion that Christ will return and reign in a real kingdom (on earth) for 1,000 years. There is nothing in the text to render the conclusion that “a thousand years” is symbolic. Never in Scripture when “year” is used with a number is its meaning not literal.”

 

Now I have not set out to approach the scriptures from a preconceived theological opinion. But you can see how some of our conclusions have intersected with these schools of thought. This is not intentional. Our conclusions have come from our attempt to be true to what the scriptures say. If they agree with someone elses opinions, so be it. I don’t really care what men have to say unless their words agree with THE WORD! God’s word is the last word! 

 

From the above passages we see that at some point, the devil will be bound and cast into the abyss where it says that he would not deceive the nations any longer… until the thousand years were completed;…after these things he must be released for a short time.

 

What do we see here?

  1. The devil will be imprisoned for a thousand years.
    1. The Greek literally means 1000 years.
  2. He will not be able to deceive the nations for this period of time.
  3. After the thousand years he will be released for a short time.

Now these are truths that we can understand. As to the interpretation of them or the timetable we don’t know. Some men say that there will be no binding of the devil, no thousand years; its all just symbolism. What do you do when someone says that God really didn’t mean what He said? I have a real problem with that. The linguistics are clear. That much is for certain! There will be a binding of Satan for a thousand years and then a short release. Now after the devil was bound John says, 4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. Who are these judges? Lets look at 2 passages of scripture that I believe gives us the answer.

The first is (Mt 19:28) Jesus is speaking to the disciples. We read…“And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Here Jesus speaks of the disciples sitting as judges. Then in (1Co 6:3) Paul, speaking to the church says “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” Could it be that these two groups, the disciples and the church are meant here? There are some who teach that it is the twelve patriarchs of the Old Testament and the twelve disciples of the New Testament. My answer…I don’t know! What’s more, we aren’t told! There are no names given here. Whoever these judges are, they have been appointed by God to carry out His will. And we can rest assured that they will execute His will flawlessly!

 

The next thing we see are martyrs and those who followed their Lord steadfastly to the end. We read…And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

 

Let’s outline this section.

  1. John sees the souls
    1. of those who were beheaded for their faith.
    2. Of those who had not worshiped the beast.
    3. Had not received his mark.
  2. These came back to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
    1. notice that it says they reigned with Christ
    2. it does not say, they reigned with Christ on the earth.
  3. This is the first resurrection. When will it occur?
  4. (1Co 15:52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
  5. (1Th 4:16)  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
  6. Notice these words…over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

 

Those who belong to Jesus Christ have been delivered from death to life, from wrath to love. We were enemies but God reconciled us to Himself through His Son. (Col 1:22-23) “yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—

23  if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven.

 

This world is getting darker and uglier every single day as men fight to eradicate God and His word and His people and their influence out of society. Evil is now considered good and good evil. Nations are rising against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms. Parents are against their kids and kids against their parents. We are experiencing evil of biblical proportions.

 

Jesus Himself said in (Mr 13:5-13) 5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 6 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. 7 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows. 9 “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

 

Are you prepared to endure to the end? Are you watching and praying so that you will not fall into temptation? I believe that things are going to get ugly real quick, even worse than what we see today. Are you prepared? Are you earnestly seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness? Is your prayer, “Even so come Lord Jesus, come quickly!” those who are not prepared, whose houses are not founded upon the rock, these will fall away. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. It’s time to really draw near to the Lord for the days are indeed evil. The martyrs of the inquisition were able to stand firm in the faith and witness a good confession only because they were walking with the Lord. They were prepared. Are you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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