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Author:Rev. Steven Swets
 send email...
 www.urcpastor.blogspot.com
 
Congregation:Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church
 Abbotsford, BC
 www.abbotsfordurc.org
 
Title:The Millenium
Text:Revelation 20 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:The Second Coming
 
Preached:2011-03-06
Added:2011-03-14
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Songs taken from the 1976 Psalter Hymnal

#114
#257
#380
Scripture Reading and Text: Revelation 20
Sermon: The Millenium
I. The Binding of Satan (v. 1-3)
II. The Reign of the Saints (v. 4-10)
III. The Final Judgment (v. 11-15)
#174
#469
 

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Steven Swets, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Scripture Reading and Text: Revelation 20

Beloved Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

            We are now getting into the some of the most debated passages of scripture. Nearly all evangelicals are premillenialists, which means, that they attempt to take all of Revelation literally. This might sound good, as surely we are big believers in the literal interpretation of scripture, but Revelation is apocalyptic literature, which means in part that there are symbols which stand for realities far greater than the symbols themselves. Add to this the fact that what John in seeing in this Revelation comes in the form of a vision, similar to a dream. John is not actually seeing any of this take place...it is a vision. But what a vision it is. Book after book have been written to explain what takes place in the closing book of the Bible. There are essentially three main views of the millennium, the 1000 years that we have touched on, off and on throughout our study.

            Premillenialism teaches that the millennium will occur after the second coming of Christ. Posmillenialism has held that the millennium occurs toward the end of the church age and that Christ’s climactic coming will occur at the close of the millennium. Amillenialists believe that the millennium started at Christ’s resurrection and will be concluded at his final coming. Dr. Gregory Beale says that this could be more acturately called “inaugurated millennialism.” Postmillenialism and amillenialism “have approached the passage more consistently according to a symbolic interpretation.”

            For premillenialists, they view the whole scriptures through this paradigm, including making a complete separation between Israel and the church today. There is one people of God and one way of salvation. If you listen to Christian radio, the most common interpretation you will hear is the premillenial position. It might sound interesting in books and look neat on movies, but we cannot hold to it, for it is not in accord with the scriptures.

            This morning we turn our attention to Revelation 20 and within this chapter we will receive a glimpse of history since Christ all in one swoop. This is taken from a bit of a different angle than chapter 19 and what came earlier. So, to put it one way, we are going back to the beginning in chapter 20. Our theme is The Lamb of God reveals all of millenial history in one chapter.

I.                    The Binding of Satan vs. 1-3

II.                  The Reign of the Saints vs. 4-10

III.                The Final Judgment vs. 11-15

I. The Binding of Satan

            In verse 1 we are reminded that John is seeing this. What does John see? He sees an angel coming down out of heaven with some very interesting things in his hand. He has a key and a chain. The key is for the bottomless pit and the great chain is to bind the dragon. In verse 2 we see the angel grab hold of the dragon, who is the Devil proper, and he is bound, he is chained up. He is thrown into the bottomless pit and is able to deceive the nations no more.

            What does this mean? When is or was Satan bound? In the Old Testament, Satan was permitted by God to roam freely. Think of Job, when God asks Satan where he was, and Satan says, I was roaming about on the earth. In the OT, all of the nations of the world were deceived except one. There was 1 nation that God would offer his special protection, there was 1 nation with which God would establish his covenant. That nation was Israel. Israel was God’s chosen people. God protected his people from the power and reign of the Devil. But, God did not protect the other nations. God was not protecting Egypt or Assyria or Philistia, etc.

            But, something changed, and that changed happens in verses 1-2 of our text. What caused Satan to be bound? The obvious answer is the resurrection of Christ is what bound Satan. However, already before that, Satan was slowly being bound by the lamb of God. Think of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Christ would not bow the knee to the Devil, and each time one of these pivotal events occurred, they were small victories in the plan of redemption.

            Ultimately, Christ defeated Satan in his death and resurrection and after Christ’s resurrection, everything changed. The death and resurrection are certainly the climactic points in world history. What happened to the people of God and the gospel after the resurrection? The gospel went out. Prior to that, the gospel stayed in. It was primarily Israelites who were being saved, but a quick reading of the book of Acts and you can see the gospel making inroads to all the nations. It can do so, because Satan, the great deceiver of the nations is bound.

            Though we might say that the trajectory of morality in this world is getting worse and worse, we must praise God for the spread of the gospel. The nations have received the gospel. Many of the European nations have patron saints which converted the people’s there. Think of someone like St. Patrick and his missionary work to Ireland. He turned the barabaric tribesmen into followers of the Jesus Christ. It was through the spread of the gospel in the Middle Ages that promoted learning and education and eventually the translation of the scriptures, etc. The gospel has a permeating effect in the world.

            Today the word of God has been brought to all the countries of the world. The scriptures have been translated into well over a thousand languages. This would not have happened had Satan not been bound by the work of Jesus Christ, the lamb of God.

            But, notice also the end of verse three. It says, “But after these things he must be released for a little while.” This is referring to the short period of time at the end of the millennium and the prior to Christ return. There is nothing more presently said about this.

            We must remember however, that although Satan is bound, he is still allowed to deceive and corrupt, he just cannot so blind the nations, as to bring together Gog and Magog, which we will see in a moment. Satan is bound for the sake of the ushering forth of the gospel, but he will be heard from again.

II. The Reign of the Saints vs. 4-10

            Verses 4ff. Describe for us the wonderful comfort of losing our loved one who belong to the Lord. Whether they are children or parents, husbands, wives, siblings or friends, it is often asked, what are they doing now? They, that is, their souls are reigning. They are reigning, because they are with Christ and with and in Christ, they are victorious.

            Verse 4 is a bit of a tricky verse to translate. It is very easy to get bogged down on differing views of it, but let us understand simply that this is speaking of martyrs who are in heaven, who were faithful to God and became martyrs because of it. They did not bow to the beast, they did not receive the mark of the beast, they stood firm. When asked with a gun to their head, are you a Christian, they said “yes.” Bang, their dead. Slice, their goes their head. That might sound flippant to you, but this has been the reality for thousands and thousands of saints in history.

            In verse 5, we read something of a first resurrection and then in verse 6 of a second death. How many resurrections are there and how many deaths. There are two of each, but only one of each is what we would consider physical. The first resurrection is when our souls are lifted up to heaven. The second resurrection occurs when Christ returns and our bodies are raised out of the earth and they are united with our souls.

            The first death occurs when we breathe our last in this life. All people experience the first death, unless they happen to be living when Christ returns. The second death is the final judgement for the wicked when they are cast into everlasting hell-fire. We will see that shortly.

            It is quite easy to get caught up in the details of Revelation, and that might have a proper place from time to time, but it is important for us to remember the larger picture here. Those who fall asleep in Jesus as I Thessolonians puts it, Christians who die are victorious and they are reigning with Christ right now. They are in glory as kings and priests of our God. We sing, that these saints in glory are holding “palms of victory.” Not of defeat, but of victory. The church in heaven is called the church triumphant because they have made it. They, in Christ have won the victory and those who have gone before us as martyrs, will receive the crown that awaits martyrs.

            Where is this reign of Christ? It is in heaven. Three reasons we know this. First, verse 4 mentions thrones which are always in heaven in Rev. E.g. 1:4; 3:21; 4:2ff. 7:9-11; 12:5, etc. Second, this is the place of souls, and third, this is where Christ is now reigning as he sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty. Christ’s reign with His saints for the 1,000 years is in heaven.

            Now in verse 7, we come back to this release of Satan at the end of the millennium. This release of Satan comes before Christ’s return, not after. Our text in verse 8ff. Uses language taken from Ezekiel 38-39 in referring to Gog and Magog. This is a reference to the unbelieving nations which are enemies of the kingdom of God. They represent the kingdom of this world...they are doomed. Their doom if foretold in Ez. 38. There is much speculation of Gog and Magog and of them representing the unbelieving powers of the world forming a world government, etc. What we can be sure about, is that in those last days the church will be severely attacked. We have seen this already with the harlot of Babylon. So too with Gog and Magog. The enemies, whose number is great in verse 8, will be punished. Fire will come down from heaven and devour them. The Satanic rebellion will be crushed and then the judgement can take place.

III. The Final Judgement

            In verse 10 we see the crushing of Satan, who was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where he can join his comrades, the beast and the false prophet. Their punishment, “torment day and night forever.” Immediately after that Christ returns. He is the one sitting on the great white throne of verse 11. Christ is judge in all of His glory.

            The judgement begins to take place in verse 12 (read). There are two books that are opened up. One I would call the book of works or actions. This is the book containing all evil that was done. In chapter 18 this was referred to as the consciences. Here is the irony of the wicked and cruel and manipulative in this world. Those who think that they can get away with it. Those who think, well, it is okay, so long as nobody finds out about it, are sorely mistaken. It is written in the book.

            This judgement however is not a negative judgement, it is a universal judgement. Both the wicked and the righteous are included. There is no differentiation of people, small big, those who were drowned and taken by the sea, etc. Also, notice the use of two books and each in verse 13 judged according to their works.

            Premillenialists do not have a good explanation of this. In there opinion, the rightoues will have been judged 1,000 years beforehand and just the wicked are left at the final judgement here. However, in verse 12, we see the book of life. This is further substantiated in other places in scripture, for example, Matthew 25:32, 46 (read).

            Notice the last phrase in verse 13. There certainly is a whole sermon contained in the phrase, “and they were judged, each one according to his works.” That can be one of the most fearful statements in scripture. It depends where on the side of the judgement you stand. If it would have to be our works that must pass the scrutiny of almighty God, we are in for a world of trouble.

            It comes down to faith. It is faith in Jesus Christ that puts our name in the book of life. So what, do our works not matter? Oh no, they matter, but our works do not put our name in the book of life. We will be rewarded in one way or another for our works, our works testify to the fact that our name either is or is not in the book of life. But, what you must realize, is that when the term judgement comes up, your only defense and explanation is Christ. Have you ever seen a child or a teenager get caught in a lie and try to lie their way out of it. You want to say, “stop, just admit it and we can deal with it from there. The more they explain the worse it gets.” We must say, “stop, no need for an explanation, just plead Christ.” What gives us a right to stand on that side? It is Christ.

            Congregation, if it is going to be Christ that we will be pleading on the judgement day, that we had better make sure he is not just lord then, but even now. No man can have two masters and our must be Our Lord Jesus Christ.

            For those not found to be in the book of life, their end is destruction. In verse 14 Death and Hades are personified, the place of the dead. They are cast into the lake of fire. Anyone not found in the Book of Life is thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second and final death...this will be their eternal destiny in the lake of fire, a picture word for hell. The outcome of the righteous, we will cover that in the next two chapters of Revelation.

            So, there it was, centuries of world history in one chapter of scripture, from the life of Christ to His return to the final judgement. Those we did not turn their face to Christ and kiss the son, will receive from God his eternal anger and wrath. Those who, through faith, embraced Christ and all his benefits have righteousness and life. By God’s grace we can be assured of our salvation in Him. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Amen.     

           




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Steven Swets, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=36111424339

(c) Copyright 2011, Rev. Steven Swets

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