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Joy to the World! The Lord is come, Let Earth Receive Her King!

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

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

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

This chapter is surrounded by controversy. The controversy swirls around the use of the words “thousand years” in verses 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. The controversy concerns the 1,000 year period we call the Millennium. There are three dominant views concerning the nature of the Millennium.

1)    Postmillennialism - This view says that the world will get better and better and when the world has reached the proper stage of saturation with the gospel, Jesus will return and establish His kingdom on earth.  Some see this as being a bottom-up transformation which will happen as the gospel changes peoples hearts and minds, while others see this as a top-down process by which we Christianize society through politics, legislation and education.  The motivation is simple – “the king won’t come until the job is done.” Postmillennialists tend to identify the kingdom of God with the church.  This view gets really popular during times of prosperity and no war, but wanes when things get bad again.

2)    Amillennialism – There are several variations of this view. The primary version says that there is no literal millennial kingdom. The kingdom of God is spiritual in nature and we are really in the kingdom age right now. Jesus presently reigns from heaven right now, through the church.  Satan has already been bound. This was and is the position of the Roman Catholic Church and many of the early reformation churches, which views itself as ruling the kingdoms. Before the return of Christ, Satan will be released for a time of testing.

3)    Premillennialism - This view holds that humanity will continue to degenerate and that the battle between Satan and the church will intensify before the return of Christ. Upon his return, Jesus will defeat the Antichrist and establish a literal kingdom on the earth and reign here for 1,000 years. This is the only view that takes these verses literally. It is my opinion that this is correct view of the millennium. Why? Well apart from being the only view that takes the book of Revelation literally, I believe it is the only view that takes the book of revelation seriously.  The theme of the entire book has been, “Endure, have faith, for Jesus will come and redeem you!” We are taught to resist the beast, not become the beast.  Some people may not think this is an important distinction, but let me put it this way.  Let’s imagine that we are living in a country of intense persecution.  The government has told us that we can worship freely as long as we worship at their sponsored churches, which they retain control over.  What do we do?  There are three options available to us.  Only one of them seems to be the message of revelation, and only one of them flows out of a premillenial position.

a.     We could fight back, try to topple their army and set up our own government ruling it as Christ’s kingdom on earth.

b.     We could acquiesce to the government, compromising our allegiance to Christ.

c.     We could recognize that in this world we will face resistance from the state, suffer the consequences of our faith in Christ, knowing that Christ will return for us. 

Again, imagine your duties as a citizen in a democratic country.  What best summarizes you approach to government:

a.     The church should set up its own government and rule through the state.

b.     Christians should lobby the government to enforce legislation that would make the country more “Christian”.

c.     Christians should exercise their civic duty, while recognizing that the State, while given authority by God to rule over men, does not ultimately have the interests of the church in mind. So we should pray for our rulers that we can live quiet lives and propogate the gospel.

We sometimes think that eschatology – the study of the last things is impractical and has no bearing on our lives as Christians.  That is not the case. What you believe about the millennial kingdom will translate into practice. 

 Why is there even a need for the millennium? Why not just wind it all up, judge sin and sinners and let the redeemed enter into eternity? The millennium will allow the Lord to accomplish some much needed goals. Among other things, the millennium will allow the Lord to:

·         To fulfill His Old Testament promises of a kingdom to Israel.

·         To put Jesus, in all His glory, on public display.

·         To give man one final test under the sovereign rule of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 One of the purposes in the millennial kingdom is closely related to God's chosen people, the Jews. God molded them into a nation in Old Testament days, that they might be God's kingdom in the world. In doing so, he made them specific promises.  In Geneses 15:18, God had promised to Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates, but this promise was never fulfilled. In addition, in 2 Samuel 7:12-16, God guaranteed that the throne of David would be established forever.  Furthermore, God promised a renewed heart and mind would be given to Israel, her regeneration and restoration to divine favor, and everlasting blessing (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Up to the present moment, none of these promises is totally fulfilled. The great truth of the Millennium is that all these promises will be fulfilled. But we must be careful, for just before the end, Satan will attempt to counterfeit Christ’s kingdom, leading many into idolatry and destruction.  Israel will be deceived into thinking her Messiah has come, and the deception will be so great that even many in the church will be fooled.  In Revelation 17, this false kingdom is called the great prostitute. She is given the symbolic name “Babylon” leading to speculation as to what city this is.  Some believe this woman to be Rome, but I would side with those interpreters who see this woman as representing a renewed, but deceived nation of Israel.  As we glance through the description of her in Revelation 17 and add what we know from other parts of Scripture, the comparison and contrast with Christ’s kingdom should become clear.

 The Fake Prostitute Kingdom verses the True Millennial Kingdom

Harlot Kingdom (Rev 17)

Millennial Kingdom (Rev 20)

Centered in Jerusalem: while Rev. doesn’t identify Jerusalem by name, Jerusalem is mentioned as the central city of the last times (Matthew 24:15-16, Rev 11)

Centered in Jerusalem: Isaiah 2:2-3, 4:3; 35:10; 62:7; Mic. 4:2; Zech. 8:22; 14:16; Jer. 3:17

Temple Rebuilt & Sacrificial System: 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Daniel 9:27.  The covenant treaty allows for the resumption of the sacrificial system:

Temple Rebuilt & Sacrificial System: Amos 9:11‐12; Ez. 40‐48 Many see this system as a memorial system looking back to Christ

Israel Exalted Among the Nations: Rev 17:4; Rev 17:1,15 seated on the backs of many waters, who are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages

Israel Exalted Among the Nations: Isa 49:22; Isaiah 2:2-3; Micah 4:1-2

Great Prosperity in the Land: Rev 18:7

Great Prosperity in the Land: Isa 45:14

Time of Peace: Dan 9:27; 1 Thess 5:3

Time of Peace: Isa.2:4; 9:4-7; 32:17-18; 33:5-6; 55:12; 60:18; Eze.28:26; 34:25, 28; Hos.2:18; Micah 4:2-3; Zech.9:10

Inhabitants “Worship the Lord”: Here is the thing.  For the first 3.5 years of this kingdom, Israel will be renewed and its inhabitants will believe they are worshipping the Lord through the renewed sacrificial system.  Imagine the pressure that will put on the church!  Here is the kicker: even after the anti-christ sets himself up in the temple and proclaims himself to be God, people will still believe that they are worshipping the Lord, because they truly will believe that anti-christ is the messiah.  And why not?  He has brought their kingdom back to them!

Inhabitants Worship the Lord: Yet these inhabitants worship the true Christ, the king of kings and Lord of Lords.

That leaves us with a question: Who are these inhabitants? From what we can piece together, there will be three groups of people.  The first group is easiest, for they are identified right in the text (verse 4). Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The reward for those who were killed during AntiChrist’s program of persecution is that they are allowed to reign with Christ in their glorified resurrection bodies.  They make up the first and smallest group. They reign with Christ as priests in the new system.


The second group is identified through a deduction: The book of Rev gives us a clue: throughout the book, reference has been made to 144,000 Israelites. These Israelites apparently did not receive the anti-Christ as messiah, but fled into the wilderness as he persecuted them along with the saints. At the end of the tribulation period, Jesus reveals himself to them over the mount of Olives and they receive him as their true Messiah.  They are then sealed with angelic protection, so that they remain go through the wrath of the Lamb unharmed, just as the Israelites in Egypt were protected from the plagues.  It is they (and most likely their families) who inhabit the land when Christ comes into his kingdom.  This makes particular sense when we remember that the primary purpose of the millennial kingdom is fulfill God’s promises to Israel. 

The final group, and this is derived primarily through the OT prophets, are survivors of the other nations who did not receive the mark of the beast, yet still had not come to know the Lord.  They are pictured in Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 as being interested in knowing the Lord, and I believe many of them will become believers in Christ through this period.  

Comes on the Back of the Beast: the picture in Rev 17:3 shows the woman sitting on the back of the beast.  It is through the work of the antichrist and his allies that Israel is once again brought to prominence. However, in verse 16, we are told that the antichrist will turn on her, leading to her downfall.

Comes in the Wake of the Lamb: the Millennial kingdom is ushered in through the return of Jesus pictured most vividly in Rev 19:11-16.  He alone can conquer the antichrist and the false prophet.  He alone has the authority to bind Satan and bring in peace.  And he alone has the right to reign from the throne of David.

Society bent toward sin: The Harlot Kingdom in Rev 17 is described as being immoral, greedy, lustful, violent, ruthless, impure, demonic, drunk and proud

Society bent toward righteousness: Rev 20:2-3. Satan is bound so that he can no longer deceive the nations.  Knowledge of the lord and his ways will fill the earth.

Interestingly, it will be in the Millennial Kingdom that we truly see the effects of our sinful nature to a degree that we have not been yet able to thus far.  Remember our spiritual warfare series when we found that we war against the world, the flesh and the devil.  Well, in the kingdom, the devil is bound, and the world is bent toward Jesus.  That means that during this time, it will be clearly shown what is in the hearts of man, so that we will have no excuse in judgment.

“Rebels” are those faithful to Lamb: During the fake kingdom, those who worship the lamb will be persecuted and killed.

Rebels are those who war against Lamb: Because of the weakness of our flesh, there will be many who, even though Satan is bound and even though the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, they still will refuse to give God glory.  Notice that God in his grace does not persecute them, but allows them to continue to live until the final rebellion Rev 20:7-10



1)   God keeps his promises: We can be sure that God will keep every one of his promises of salvation to us, because He has kept and will keep every one of the promises He made to the Jewish people.  That is the central point of Romans 9-11.  God has not failed his people, so you can be sure, that His promises will not fail you.

2)   Don’t be deceived: Satan is an amazing counterfeiter: The ultimate counterfeit is yet to come as Satan empowers the False Christ to set up the false kingdom.  Yet, Satan's strategies never change and he is always in the business of getting our eyes off of Christ and onto what every false kingdom consists of: greed, pride, lust, violence, power.  The Harlot Jerusalem is simply called the mother of all other false kingdoms. Come out from her and purify yourself!

3)   Pray for your government that you might have peace: God has granted authority to the nations and their leaders so that they might order and arrange society and punish evildoers.  However, because those kingdoms are not his kingdom, there will be at time conflict between the interests of the state and the interests of Christians, and so, instead of taking up arms and setting up our own kingdoms, we pray for our leaders so that we might have peace and propagate the gospel freely.

Right now it appears that the devil is winning the battle. It’s kind of like that little league game I heard about. A little boy was sitting in the dugout and a man walked by and said, “Hey son, what’s the score.

      The little boy said, “They’re beating us 25 to 0.

      The man responded, “Isn’t that a little depressing?

      The boy answered, “Naw, mister, we ain’t even got up to bat yet!

That’s where this thing stands today. If you look at all the score cards, it appears that we are entering the fifteenth round and that the devil’s won the other fourteen. It just looks that way! When the bell rings and the final round begins, King Jesus is going to deliver the knockout punch!