The Chain and Reign
Good morning. After that worship I feel like I should do my Christmas message today, but I won’t do that to you. Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 20 taking a look this morning at verses 1-6 of Revelation 20, taking a look this morning at verses 1-6. The title of our message this morning is The Chain and the Reign. I appreciate everybody’s prayers for Anne’s surgery, things seemed to go well, that’s what the doctors told us, but she’s got a couple of screws in one of her fingers and it hurts a lot so if you can keep praying for her with pain management we would appreciate it. And it’s not just us that needs prayer. In our bulletin you’ll see an insert there of people with all kinds of health issues and it’s always wonderful to go into those circumstances with God’s people behind you in prayer.
Revelation 20:1, we have, in our study of the Book of Revelation, completed the tribulation period. Can you believe that? The tribulation period is over; we finished chapter 19 last week which is the return of Jesus to the earth in what is called the Second Advent of Christ. And we can take chapter 19 and divide it into different pieces but we concluded last time with verses 19-21 where Christ returns to the earth and He dispenses with the beast and his armies and the false prophet. In fact, if memory is right I don’t think we read verse 21 last time.
Look at that, chapter 19, verse 21. It says, “And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.” Now that doesn’t read like a typical Christmas verse, does it? At Christmas time we celebrate His first coming, this is a reference to His second coming where He returns. He is that rider in the white horse; He kills instantaneously the various armies that will approach Him at this time with a sharp sword protruding from His mouth, which is His spoken word. And there are so many dead bodies that the birds come and begin to feast on the carnage of the deceased. And that’s how chapter 19 ends.
Now let me just for a minute, let’s go back up to about the ten thousand foot level and let’s remember where we are in the Book of Revelation. Revelation chapter 1:19 I believe is there to give us an outline of the whole book. John was told this back in the first century on the Island of Patmos, “Therefore write the things that you have seen, the things which are, and the things that will take place after these things.” Number one, “write down the things that you have seen,” that’s the vision of the glorified Christ that John saw. It’s a reference to the contents of chapter one. Then he is told to “write down the things which are,” that’s chapters 2 and 3, the seven letters to the seven churches.
And then he was told to “write down the things that will take place after these things.” That’s chapter 4:1, taking a right all the way to the end of the book, the futuristic section which is the longest section of the Book of Revelation but that’s the section that we have been slowly working our way through. In fact, there’s a literary clue that you’re moving into that futuristic section because it says in Revelation 4:1, “After these things.” Wasn’t John told to write down the things that will take place “after these things” meta tauta in Greek, “after these things.” When does that section start? It starts in chapter 4 verse 1, “After these things.”
So once you get to chapter 4 all the way through to the end of the book you’re in that third and final section of the book. And that section is so long we have to divide it into three parts. Number one, events before the tribulation period starts, chapters 4 and 5. Number two, the events of the tribulation period itself, chapters 6-19. Congratulations, we actually finished that section, having made it all the way through those various judgments and culminating in the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. And now we’re in the third part of that third section where we learn about four things that will happen after the tribulation period ends. Those four things are: number one, the Kingdom of God, chapter 20, verses 1-10. Number two, a terrible judgment for the unsaved called the Great White Throne Judgment, chapter 20 verses 11-15. Number three, the destruction of this earth, Revelation 21:1. Now if you’re a believer in global warming that’s when you’re going to get your global warming.
And then this earth is going to be replaced by a new heavens and new earth in which dwells righteousness, chapters 21 and 22. And so this morning we’re just… and by the way, that’s what they look like on graphic or chart form. You see the second coming and you look to the right there and you’ve got Kingdom, Great White Throne Judgment, The New Heavens and New Earth, which can’t come into existence until the present heaven and earth are dissolved via fire. So we’re moving into that first of the four events that will happen when Jesus Christ comes back, something that Jesus instructed us to pray about two thousand years ago when He told His disciples to pray this prayer, “Thy Kingdom” what? “Come.” What is it we’re praying for? Well, here’s the answer. Revelation 20:1-10 is an answer to that prayer request. And so that’s where we are moving into this morning.
So you can take the information about the kingdom, which is yet to come, and you can divide it into three parts. Number one, there is information about Satan, verses 1-3. And you could subtitle that unit the great chain. [Revelation 20:1, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;  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.”]
Number two, there’s information about the saints, verses 4-6. [Revelation 20:4-6, “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. 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.  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.  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..”] That’s your future and my future, and we can entitle that the great reign.
And then a thousand years will elapse and there’s information about sinners at the end of that time period, verses 7-10, stunningly and staggeringly there is a great revolt, verses 7-10, and God is allowing that to happen as we will see in our studies to teach humanity a specific lesson. [Revelation 20:7-10, “When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,  and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.  And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”]
So we have the great chain, 1-3. The great reign, verses 4-6. The great revolt at the very end of the reign, verses 7-10. So we move first of all into something called the great chain and we have a prisoner, verses1 and 2, and then we have a description of a prison. Notice this information about the prisoner. “Then,” meaning this happens right after Jesus returns, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand,” we’ll go ahead and read verse 2 also, “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”
Look at verse 1 and you see an angel coming down from heaven. I don’t know who that angel is, it’s just an unnamed angel. A lot of people think that angel is Jesus, I personally don’t think that but you’ll find a lot of good commentators moving in that direction . But you’ll notice this angel has a key which allows entrance into a place called the abyss, sometimes translated as the bottomless pit. Sometimes the abyss is used of death. Romans 10:7 that word “abyss” abouso in the Greek, is used of the grave. It says, or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But I don’t think that’s how the word is used here. I think it is referring to a place of incarceration for fallen angels. That’s how it’s used earlier in the Book, in Revelation 9:1-2 and verse 11, it’s translated as either the abyss or the bottomless pit. [Revelation 9:1-2, “Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him.  He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke.”  “They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.”]
That’s where a horrific horde of demons emerge during one of the trumpet judgments, to torment people on the earth for five months. And when we were in that section I tried to make the case that those were actually the fallen angels that sinned in Noah’s day but left their natural abode and consequently they are incarcerated there for that very moment in history when God would allow them out of the abyss to torment mankind.
So the abyss I think is some sort of temporary place of incarceration, a holding tank if you will, for the fallen angels. And that’s who this good angel has the key to. He has the ability to open up this abyss or this bottomless pit because that’s where Satan is going for a thousand years. And you’ll notice also that this angel has a great chain in his hand; it’s not just a chain, it’s the Greek word mega, which you recognize… mega, a mega chain, a massive chain. And I just bring this to our attention because many people think that they can take on Satan today through their own power and they can’t. Simply to place him in this abyss is going to require the work of an angel and an angel who has not just a chain but a mega chain or a massive chain. And obviously when you understand this you understand the power of Satan above and beyond us. And then we start to appreciate why God says “put on the full armor of” what? “of God.” [Ephesians 6:;11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes on the devil.”] We don’t contest Satan through human power; he’s far more powerful than we are.
But look at verse 2, it says, “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.” This angel “laid hold of” Satan. And it’s interesting that it describes him laying hold of the dragon and then it defines the dragon as “the serpent of old,” Genesis 3, or the devil or Satan himself. And I bring this to our attention because a lot of people have this mindset that the Book of Revelation is so symbolic you can’t understand it.
And I will concede that the Book of Revelation is symbolic but every single symbol in the Book of Revelation can be identified and it can also be interpreted if you know some basic rules. Sometimes the Book of Revelation will speak figuratively, other times it will speak plainly. When it’s speaking figuratively it’s sort of obvious that it’s figurative because a symbol is identified in the passage. You just look for certain clues, spiritually, sign, like or as, and other clues. And when you run into those clues nine times out of ten John Walvoord says this happens about 26 times in the Book of Revelation, nine times out of ten the context that you’re working in will identify the symbol for us. And so we don’t have to guess as to who the dragon is, we don’t have to guess as to who the serpent is, it tells us right there in the passage that we’re dealing with Satan himself or the devil.
I like what Henry Morris writes in his commentary on the Book of Revelation. He says, “It must be stressed that Revelation, the title of the Book, Apokalopsis, means unveiling and not veiling.” God did not give us a book that’s so complicated and so sophisticated that people can’t understand it. In fact, this book, as we have studied, promises a blessing to whoever will read it and whoever will heed it. Why would God associate a blessing with understanding this book and say ha, ha, ha, you can’t understand it!
All of the symbols in the Book of Revelation, I believe, can be easily understood and therefore we know exactly who this dragon is—it’s Satan himself. And you look there at verse two and it talks about how Satan, at this time in history, will be bound. [“And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; Revelation 20:2] You’ll notice the expression “and bound him.” Now that is what Satan doesn’t want to happen in history. This is one of the reasons He doesn’t want the Book of Revelation taught because it spells out his doom. And currently he is not bound; he is running the world system. The Bible calls him “the prince of this world,” “the god of this age,” “the prince and power of the air,” “the one who the believer wrestles with,” he “roams about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.”
[John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” 2 Corinthians 4:4, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ.” Ephesians 2:2, “in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air.” “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”]
In fact, 1 John 5:19 tells us that the whole world lies within his power. [1 John 5:19, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”] And that’s how it’s been since the fall in Eden. And that’s’ how it is today, and that’s how it’s going to be all the way until the end, until the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. That’s why Revelation 11:15 says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”
That’s what’s happening in the book. Satan is being as an unjust, unlawful possessor being evicted and Jesus Christ’s kingdom is finally coming to the earth and being imposed. That’s why when you go through the book of Revelation, as we’ve pointed out, it sounds an awful lot like the book of Exodus. Sores, plague six. Exodus, first bowl judgment, the book of Revelation. Rivers to blood, first plague, book of Exodus. Third bowl judgment, the Book of Revelation, darkness, ninth plague. Book of Exodus, fifth bowl judgment Book of Revelation. Frogs, second plague, Book of Exodus. Sixth bowl judgment the Book of Revelation. Hail, seventh plague, the Book of Exodus. Seventh bowl judgment the Book of Revelation.
It’s almost impossible to study the Book of Revelation without noting the parallels to Exodus. Why the parallels? Because the Book of Revelation is the same theme as the Book of Exodus but it’s in a global form. In the Book of Exodus God is taking His people out of 400 years of Egyptian bondage. That’s what’s happening. And in the Book of Revelation God is taking the whole earth out of all of the bondage that it’s been in for all of these millennia and Satan is finally being evicted and God’s Kingdom is coming to the earth in response to the prayer “Thy kingdom come.”
And when you start to understand this it saves us from a lot of silliness, silly talk, foolishness, even in Christian circles, about bells going around binding Satan. Why would you do that? It’s going to take a strong angel with a great chain to bind Satan, only when Jesus comes back. You can’t bind Satan. In fact a lot of Christians you’ll listen to them pray, they’ll say Satan, I bind you from this event, Satan, I bind you from that event. What a silly prayer that is. How about a prayer for divine protection in Satan’s world. That might be better. But the reality is we don’t bind Satan, we don’t give him a black eye and run him out of town. We’re on defense against him. What the Bible says is resist the devil and he will flee. James 4:7. [James 4:7, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” But resist him, 1 Peter 5:9. [1 Peter 5:9, “But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”] So that you will be able to resist in the evil day, Ephesians 6:13. [Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”]
We are not on offense, we are on defense and that’s how it’s going to be until Jesus Christ returns. But once that return is accomplished how things change and this world is no longer in Satan’s dominion, it’s no longer in Satan’s grasp as Satan now is incarcerated for a thousand years. Here’s a chart that I’ve used many times as we’ve studied the Book of Revelation together. Satan’s defeat doesn’t come all at once, it comes in stages. And here we are at number six on a list of seven in terms of his defeat, his demise, and it’s his binding. He’s going to be bound from deceiving the nations for a thousand years. And that in and of itself is not even Satan’s final demise because God, as we will see, verses 7-10, has one more great purpose for Satan. God only keeps Satan around long enough to use Satan for God’s purposes. That’s how sovereign God is over Satan. That purpose has not yet been served and once it is served we will reach number seven where Satan finally will be thrown forever into the Lake of Fire; his career at that time will be completely over.
But if you look at verse 2 you have the binding of Satan and then you run into this very interesting expression, “for a thousand years. The Greek word for thousand years is κιλλία [killia] so those in early church history who believed in a future rule of God on earth that would last for a thousand years got the name killias, after this Greek word killia. The talked so much about this coming one thousand year reign of Jesus Christ that they begin to call themselves and get the label chiliasts. And today we call them premillennialists. We just switched the vocabulary around. You say well where does that name come from? It’s Latin. When they started to debate these things in Latin the Latin title stuck. “milli” means a thousand annum in Latin means year or years. You take those two words together, millennium, in Latin you put them together you get the designation millennium. And these folks were called what we would call today premillennialists.
You say well what is a premillennialist? It’s someone who believes that Jesus comes back first (pre) and then the millennium or the thousand year period starts. That’s the doctrinal position of Sugar Land Bible Church. We are premillennialists. Christ comes back first and then the kingdom starts. Now doesn’t that make sense, because the return of Christ is given in chapter 19 and the millennial kingdom is described in chapter 20. I don’t think it takes a PhD in theology to understand that chapter 19 comes before chapter 20. In fact does anybody here disagree with the fact that chapter 19 comes before chapter 20. I think we would all agree with that. This is giving a chronology; Jesus comes back first, and then the kingdom comes.
That also saves you from a lot of silliness in Christianity where ministries are having conferences entitled “Kingdom Builders,” building the kingdom, let’s bring in the kingdom. Why would you go to a conference like that? I’m not building any kingdom. The very best thing that I’m doing as a New Testament Christian is I’m winning souls who are inheritors of the coming kingdom but I have no interest in building any kingdom on the earth. What I’m interested in is praying “Thy kingdom come” where Jesus Himself will establish His kingdom. And it’s shocking how many people have been hoodwinked by the idea that the church is somehow building the kingdom of God. You can’t even get Christians to agree on what they’re going to have for dinner that night; are you going to trust Christianity today in its apostate state with building God’s kingdom? No, that’s nonsense, we’re not building any kingdom. We’re praying “Thy kingdom come.” Jesus will establish His kingdom when He returns to the earth.
Now against this view is something called amillennialism and it’s been the dominant position in the church, going back to the fourth century, “a” is what we would call an alpha privitive, it’s a negation, it’s like saying I’m an atheist, the “a” in front “theist” means you’re denying God. An amillennialist is someone who says there will be no future reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. Why is that? Because we’re in the reign of Christ now. So rather than wait for Jesus to come back and establish His long-awaited kingdom they say well He already started a kingdom in the first century and we are living in between the two advents of Christ and the kingdom is happening now. As my friend, Thomas Ice likes to say if this is the kingdom then I must be living in the ghetto section of town. [Laughter] Because you clearly don’t see the description happening in the world today regarding what the kingdom will be like.
In fact, when the kingdom comes people who happen to die at the age of 100, Isaiah 65:20 talks about how everybody is just going to kind of sit around and way wow, what a tragedy such a young man died. [Isaiah 65:20, “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred. And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred will be thought accursed.”] Can you imagine somebody died at age 100 and yet today if you make it to age 100 you’re considered fortunate or even to some extent lucky.
So against the view of premillennialism is amillennialism and everything that’s promised about the kingdom simply gets deliteralize, it gets repackaged, oh, that’s just talking about the reign of Jesus in your heart, those sorts of things. And a close kissing cousin of amillennialism is postmillennialism, which basically teaches almost the same thing except for the idea of progress, that the church is going to Christianize the world, and in face, we’re going to get so good at Christianizing the world that we’re going to set up the kingdom of Christ for Christ now while the King is absent. And we’re actually going to become so successful at running this kingdom for a thousand years that Jesus will return at the end of the kingdom, post, postmillennialism, and He’ll come back and say wow, you guys have done such a great job setting up the kingdom for Me, I’ll take over from here. That’s what you call postmillennialism.
And people get into this subject and they say it’s just pie in the sky, why bother people with these details? It’s relevant because it shows you what the church should be doing now. If I were a post-millennialist I would be preaching a lot of sermons on social justice, bringing in kingdom conditions, structural bias, universal health care, all of these kinds of things when the reality of the situation is this world is not going to get any better, in fact, it’s going to go from bad to worse. And I’m not expecting kingdom conditions even to materialize on planet earth until Jesus Christ brings them in, then you’re going to get your social justice and it’s not the kind of social justice you’re talking about, by the way, at the university. You’re going to get social justice Jesus style and if you’re worried about poverty and structural bias and all these things are going to get fixed in an instant.
People criticize our view and they say well you’re just preaching why polish the brass on a sinking ship? The reality of the situation is as a Christian you can have influence over all kinds of things but those things restrain the hand of evil. They slow down the hand of evil. I think we should vote and we should be politically active and every time we go out and vote we should take note of the new world order but the reality of the situation is whether you like it or not the new world order is going to come and it’s not going to be permanently cataclysmically dealt with until the return of Jesus Christ.
All the way back in the fourth century Augustine, who began this idea of amillennialism, said this: “the saints reign with Christ during the same thousand years, understood in the same way, that is, of the time of His first coming” see that? “and therefore the Church even now is the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven. Accordingly, even now His saints reign with Him.” [The City of God, trans., Marcus Dods (NY: Random House, 1950), Book XX, chap. 9, p. 725-26.] I wish that were true. I wish when I picked up my newspaper and read about Christians being martyred all over the world that they weren’t being martyred all over the world, that they were reigning with Christ. But amillennialism denies that, it deliteralizes it and it makes it look as if what’s happening now represents kingdom conditions. Augustine, I won’t read the whole quote, it goes on and sort of derides those that were deemed chiliasts towards the end of that sentence. Who are the chiliasts? Those were the first two centuries of the church where they held to a literal kingdom that would come one day, not through human agency, not through human instrumentality, but directly through the return of Jesus Christ.
Now you gotta love John Calvin, right pastor; I mean, everything John Calvin says must be true, right? Let me tell you something about John Calvin. John Calvin, although he made contributions to Christianity when the Reformation movement started in the 16th century he absorbed, he didn’t invent it, but he absorbed the Augustinian doctrine of amillennialism. And that’s why you can go into a Reformed church today and they may be very good on certain topics but they teach a Roman Catholic eschatology without even being aware of it. Because Calvin, as did Luther, absorbed this teaching and never corrected it. And God would have to raise up other, post reformation, to restore a literal interpretation to the church in the area of Bible prophecy.
Today you can go to a Reformed church and you can hear something exactly like this: Kenneth Gentry says, “The proper understanding of the thousand year time period in Revelation 20 is that it is representative of a long and glorious era and it’s not limited to a literal 365,000 days. This figure represents a perfect cube of 10, which is the number of quantitative perfection.” [Kenneth L. Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion: A Post Millennial Eschatology (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian economics, 1992), page 335.] I give him an “A” for creativity because I thought seven was the number of completion. He just made it to ten, ten cubes that supposedly teach the entire meaning that the thousand years are happening now.
You see, they have a big problem with this number one thousand. In fact, as we go through this passage what you’re going to see is this number, a thousand years, is not mentioned just once, it’s mentioned six times in these ten verses. Now why would they have a problem with the number one thousand? Because if the kingdom is taking place between the two advents of Christ the last time I checked how many years have there been since Christ’s first coming? At least two thousand years. The problem is the Bible says a thousand. So they wave a magic wand and all of a sudden a thousand becomes two thousand or whatever you want it to be. The reality of the situation is a thousand means a thousand!
You say well how can you be so certain of that? Let me give you four reasons: Number One, John knows how to say a short time and a long time. In fact, in verse 3 it says “Satan will be bound and released a short time later. Gentry is trying to argue that a thousand just means a long time. Well guess what folks. God knows how to say a long time; He knows how to say a short time. He doesn’t do that here. He gives you a concrete number.
Number two, when the Greek word year or years is attached to a number in the Greek text every single time it always refers to a literal period of time. That, by the way, is how you know that the creation days of Genesis 1 are six literal twenty-four hour days. It doesn’t just say yom, the Hebrew word for day, it says first day, second day, third day. And you go right on through Hebrew Bible and you’ll see yom connected with a number is always a literal day. That’s how it works here, killia connected with a number, years I should say connected with a number always refers to a literal period of time.
Beyond that, number three, if thousand doesn’t mean thousand and it means whatever you want it to mean what are you going to do with every other number in the Book of Revelation? Pandora’s box is opened at that point. Two witnesses doesn’t mean two witnesses, nor does the expression seven thousand people or four angels, or seven angels, or a hundred and forty-four thousand Jews, or twelve thousand Jews from each tribe, or forty-two months or one thousand two hundred and sixty days, all of a sudden every other number is up for grabs.
And beyond that as we saw with the example of the dragon or Satan, when God wants to be understood symbolically he tells you it’s a symbol. For example, we already saw Revelation 20:2, it talks about the dragon and then it identifies who the dragon is, “the serpent of old,” who is the devil or Satan. [Revelation 20:2, “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”] So we know the dragon there is a symbol because the symbol is defined or identified in the very passage. Do you see that? That’s not what you have with a thousand; it doesn’t say a thousand but by a thousand we mean something else. It just gives you a concrete number.
So what can we conclude from this: Here’s the [can’t understand word]. Ready? This is what you go home and people say what did you learn at church and here’s what you tell them. You tell them a thousand means a thousand in Revelation 20. And then you tell them that chapter 20 comes after chapter 19 and they’re going to say that is a really deep philosophical church that you go to.
So we see here that Satan is bound for this one thousand year time period. Now when you go down to verse 3 it continues, and it says, “and he threw him into the abyss,” the temporary place of incarceration for fallen angels, “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.” So he is bound and he is in that condition for a thousand years. And as he is in that condition for a thousand years he has no ability to deceive the nations.
Now prior to this time of a thousand year incarceration Satan, Revelation 12:9, was deceiving the whole world. [Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”] And yet here is coming a time in history where his deceptive power over the nations will be curtailed; in fact, it will be completely eliminated. It will be completely eradicated and that becomes another reason why we could not be in that thousand year time period currently.
Would you say that the nations today are deceived? They’re totally deceived! And yet this is talking about a time period that when the nations are no longer in a state of deception. I mean, we don’t even have in our own United States government a common sense approach to things any more, do we? I mean what are we all worried about? Instead of doing something for the American people they want to impeach the President of the United States for something he never did; this is absolute insanity. It’s absolute deception. How could we be in a time period when the nations are no longer in a state of deception?
But the day will come after this thousand year time period has run its course where Satan will be released for a short time. Notice the word “short time,” it’s the word allegos, meaning short, where we get the word oligarchy, ruled by a small number of people, short, small. So apparently God is going to let Satan out of his place of incarceration for one final hoorah, and when we get into that section I’ll be explaining exactly why God allows it. But for now I want you to see that the only reason Satan is even around is God is using Satan for His own purposes, as we study verse 3, the prison. “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.” [Revelation 20:3]
And I hope you’re not getting your theology from the movie Rocky, where Apollo and Rocky are fairly equally matched and they’re duking it out and we’re not sure who’s going to win, and you’re kind of sitting at the edge of your seat because you don’t know who’s going to pull this out. As I mentioned before, this is Rocky one, the good old day; now it’s rocky twenty-seven or something, where their great grandkids are fighting. But in the good old days you’d sit there on the edge of your seat. My dad took me to see that movie Rocky back in the 70’s and you don’t know who’s going to win. That’s a doctrine called dualism. A lot of people look at the contest between God and Satan through a false lens of dualism.
The reality of the situation is the Book of Ezekiel tells us that Satan is a created being. It says that in Ezekiel 28:13, and verse 15. [Ezekiel 28:13, “You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared.”  “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.”]
The point is this is no contest; you know exactly who’s going to win. The only reason God allows Satan even to sit in the present day and in the abyss during the thousand year period God is going to use Satan for one more purpose. That’s one of the reasons we sit around throughout the ages in eternity and glorify God at His plan and His program, because only God could take the work of His arch enemy, Satan, and use it strategically in human history for God’s own purposes. This is why the Bible is very clear that not all things are good but “all things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose.” [Romans 8:28]
There, in the year 2019, may have been a lot of things in your life that didn’t go right, financially, health wise, and isn’t it great to be in the arms of Jesus Christ and to know that He can take every circumstance, good or bad, and use those strategically for His ultimate purpose, conforming us into the image of His Son. A lot of us waste our time trying to figure out what is God’s purpose for my life? Here’s the purpose, Romans 8:29, to conform us to the image of His Son. [Romans 8:29, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;”]
And God, what I’ve discovered in my life doesn’t waste anything, even things I’ve done in my life that I wish I hadn’t done God can use that to conform me into the image of His Son. He doesn’t tell me everything is good but He uses all things together for good. And we’re going to look back in eternity and see the hand of God in everything, even how He strategically allowed Satan the upper hand it’s seen during certain times in human history. It is interesting here to me that God takes the unholy trinity…who’s the unholy trinity? The unholy trinity is the three entities we’ve been studying in the Book of Revelation, the beast, the false prophet and the dragon. God has His trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Satan has his trinity, beast, false prophet and Satan. And how God takes that unholy trinity and divides it. The two entities called the beast (that we saw last week) are put into the Lake of Fire. Satan, Revelation 19:20 does not go into the lake of fire, as we’ve looked at, he goes into a completely different place called the abyss.
[Revelation 19:20,:1, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;  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.”]
What is God demonstrating here? He is sovereign over the satanic trinity that deceives the world. And you know, the breaking down of the trinity is something Satan tried to do with God’s trinity. In Matthew 4:3-4, Satan testing Christ, God the Son, it says, “And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”  But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
Had Satan succeeded in that particular temptation he would have driven a wedge between God the Son and God the Father. And Satan’s attempt to divide the trinity in the earthly life of Christ did not succeed. And here is God at the end of human history saying two can play at that game, I’ll take the satanic trinity and cut in two. You two—the Lake of Fire; you two—into the abyss. And just point after point after point after point we see God is succeeding where Satan himself failed.
So we move away from the great chain and now we move into the great reign and we see two things here under the great reign. Number on one, the resurrection of the just and number two, the rule of the just. Take a look at Revelation 20 and notice, if you will, verse 4. “Then I” that’s John, “saw thrones and they that sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God, and those who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead … and they came to life” and then it goes on and it says, “and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
Notice first of all the resurrection of the just and look what it says in verse 4, “Then I saw thrones,” every time I read that it always is striking to me because I want it to say, or I think it should say, “I saw a throne,” singular. But it doesn’t say that. It says, “I saw thrones,” plural. So this is not just speaking of the reign of Christ individually over the earth; this is also speaking about the reign of the believer over the earth as we will be functioning under His delegated authority for a thousand years. It doesn’t just say throne, it says “thrones.” Isn’t that what Jesus said to the disciples in Matthew 19:28. Does it not say, “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,” singular noun, “and you also shall sit upon twelve thrones,” plural, “judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
I mean, Jesus at the beginning of His relationship with His twelve told them you’re destined for a throne, you’re destined for authority. And this theme is played out as we move through the Book of Revelation, Revelation 3:21, Jesus says, “He who overcomes I will grant him to sit down with me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 1:6 tells us that “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests [to [His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.]” And you say wasn’t that sweet, isn’t that nice? It’s just a title with no authority until you read Revelation 5:10, then you figure out the authority that a priest will have in the millennial kingdom. Revelation 5:10 says, “You have made them to be a kingdom of priests and they will reign upon the earth.” That’s your destiny.
Notice the future tense of the word “reign,” you’re not reigning now but you will. And your reign is not going to be just located somewhere in heaven, but it’s going to be on this earth. This is our destiny in God. This is why Paul is so irate with the Corinthians, who were suing each other before pagan unbelieving courts. And they were destroying their testimony in Christ by fighting amongst unbelievers. And how did Paul rebuke the Corinthians? Did he say you guys must not be Christians to act like that! What he says is you’ve lost sight of your identity, you’ve lost sight of your destiny in God. He says in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3, “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?  Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”
You can’t work out your little squabbles and tiny differences amongst one another to such a point that you have to go in front of unbelievers to get them to solve the problem, because apparently there’s no one wise enough amongst you to figure these little tiny things out? Don’t you understand who you are? Don’t you understand your authority? Don’t you understand your position? Don’t you understand your destiny? Don’t you understand that you are going to rule and reign alongside Jesus Christ for a thousand years? Then get it together folks, handle these little problems. We ought to do that given our authority that’s coming in Jesus Christ.
It says there in verse 4, “Then I saw thrones and I saw the souls of those that been beheaded because them that set on them” watch this now, “and judgment was given to them.” You’re not just on a throne but you’re actively judging. And then he goes on and he says there in verse 4, “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God, and of those who had not worshipped the beast and his image, and not received the mark on their foreheads or on their hands, and they came to life….”
What is that talking about? This is the last phase of the resurrection of the righteous. We know that it’s the end of time, Daniel 12:2, there’s going to be two great resurrections. A resurrection unto life for the believer, a resurrection unto damnation for the unbeliever. [Daniel 12:2, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”] And Paul, in his resurrection chapter, as he is explaining this analogizes it to Christ’s resurrection being firstfruits, an analogy that Jewish hearer or reader of Paul would immediately understand because in Judaism, and you can find this in the Book of Exodus, Leviticus and many other places that the Jews did not just have one harvest, they had three. Firstfruits was the first harvest and that was always a happy time because that harvest guaranteed the rest of the harvest.
So firstfruits came in and then would come the general harvest for the bulk of the nation. And then following that general harvest would be the gleaning. I want to say it’s around Leviticus 19 verses 9 and 10, the part of the harvest that was left for the poor. [Leviticus 19:9, “Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.  Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God.”] And the poor were always given dignity in God; they were always allowed to come and harvest for themselves but they couldn’t do that if everybody took everything in the general harvest. In fact, if you’re a student of your Old Testament you know that Ruth met Boaz at harvest number three, the gleanings.
And Paul, when he uses this analogy say the resurrection unto life for the believer is going to have three phases to it, just like the Jewish harvest. Number one is firstfruits, that’s Jesus and His bodily resurrection from the dead. Just as firstfruits guarantees everything else on the chain the bodily resurrection of Jesus guarantees our resurrection. We will rise because He rose.
And then will come number two, the general harvest. What is that? That’s the rapture of the church. Everybody that is part of the body of Christ, dead or alive, when the rapture happens, prior to the tribulation period even beginning, will immediately be transferred from mortality into immortality. And at that point you’re given a brand new body. Just like Christ came out in a brand new, or might we put it this way, resurrected body; it’s still you, I’m going to be able to recognize you, you’re going to be able to recognize me but I think I’ll look a lot better and so will you, because it’s the body that God intended before sin entered the picture. Didn’t sin affect our bodies? Didn’t Genesis 3:19 say to our forbearers, Adam and Eve, “To dust you are to” what? “dust you shall return.”
You’re going right back into the dirt from which you came. That’s the consequence of sin. You say I don’t believe you. As I like to say well I’ll prove it to you, just get out your driver’s license picture today and compare it to your yearbook picture in high school and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. We’re laboring under a curse where the very body itself is deteriorating; at the rapture of the church you’re given a body that God intended before the curse altered it. That’s the general harvest.
But what about people that were believers before the church started? What about Abraham and Daniel and Noah and Job? And beyond that there’s a lot of people that are going to get saved after the church has been removed. What’s going to happen to them? That’s what we’re reading about here, the last phase of the resurrection of the righteous. And those people that are resurrected in this particular sequence or cycle will be brought in resurrected bodies forth at the beginning of the millennial kingdom. And it describes this last group, Old Testament saints, Daniel 12:2. [Daniel 12:2, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”]
Tribulation martyrs, they are folks that have been beheaded, Revelation 6:9-11. [Revelation 6:9-11, “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;  and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.”] These are folks that died because of the testimony of Jesus during the tribulation period. That word “testimony” is μαρτυρία (marturia) where we get which word? Martyr. These are folks that died because of the Word of God. We don’t know who the Word of God is, He’s the one that’s coming back on the white horse, Jesus Christ Himself, Revelation 19:13. [Revelation 19:13, “He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.”]
These are people that said no to the beast worshipping the system. Revelation 13:4 says that the beast will demand worship from every human being and they said no, and they went to their grave on account of that. Revelation 13:4, “they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “ Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”] These are people that did not worship the beast’s image; we know about the beast’s image, don’t we, Revelation 13:15, that statue that the beast will set up midway through the tribulation period, a statue that even speaks. [Revelation 13:15, “And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”] And these people say we’re not going to worship that and they went to their graves because of it.
These are people that would not receive the mark on their right hand or their forehead. Revelation 13:16-18, which pushed them out of the economic systems of the earth and they had to live like hunted people and common criminals during this terrible time period. [Revelation 13:16-18,  “ And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,  and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.  Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.”]
This is the group we’re talking about here. You’re no longer under the impression of the beast, you’re ruling and reigning alongside Jesus Christ for a thousand years. You see, the resurrection of the church has already been accomplished; the resurrection of Jesus was accomplished before that. But there are three phases of this harvest and the gleanings haven’t happened yet. Old Testament saints, Daniel 12:2, tribulation martyrs are resurrected at this time. [Daniel 12:2, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”]
And I love what it says there, verse 4, “they came to life.” The Greek word for “came to life” is The Greek word for “came to life” is ζωή (zoë). Now what do people who think we’re in the kingdom now, what do they do with this verse? You know what they do with it? They say this is just describing regeneration. I mean, all this is talking about is people that get saved today, they trust Christ, and they’re born again, “they came to life.” So you’ll notice that kingdom now theologians who want the kingdom to exist currently, between the two advents of Christ, have to take this concept of “they came to life” and they have to completely deliteralize it or spiritualize it. This, in essence, is what Augustine was teaching to do back in the fourth century, whose book is The City of God. This is why Augustine was always looking with derision upon the chiliast or the literalist, or the people that were foolish enough to take these things in a literal sense.
I didn’t read the quote but you can back up in the notes and you can see the derision in the writings of Augustine, towards the chiliast, and you can see that same spirit of ridicule and derision in the writings of John Calvin who did not invent amillennialism but absorbed it and never corrected it. And may I just say to you that if you were to go to a Reformed church today and articulate your belief and a future thousand year kingdom and a future resurrection you would get the same spirit of antagonism and derision.
But here’s the reality of the situation; zoë is not just found in verse 4. It’s found in verse 5 where it talks about a terrible resurrection which will occur at the end of the thousand years for the unsaved of all ages. And when those people are brought back to life it says this: “They came to life,” verse 4. Verse 5, says the rest did not come to life, zoë, until the thousand years were over. And I’ll tell you what’s very interesting about his is Augustine, Calvin and even the Reformed movement today will tell you that that final resurrection is literal. The first resurrection is not literal; it’s allegorical, but that last resurrection for all the unsaved at the end of the thousand years, that’s a real resurrection. See what’s happened here? You have to adjust your method of interpretation right in the middle of the verse.
And this is how you know you’re dealing with false doctrine, when you have to hold to concepts inconsistently, because it’s the exact same verb, zoë. And if those folks are going to be literally resurrected at the end of the thousand years (and they are), then why would I take the same verb one verse earlier zoë and say it means something completely different, in this case not bodily resurrection but regeneration. Beloved, you’d better be careful what theological system you’re embracing because the Book of Colossians very clearly tells us that we ought not to be hoodwinked by a philosophy imposed on truth. And whatever your theology is you’d better make sure it stands up according to God’s Word, because I’m not the one you have to answer to on this. You have to answer to God. We’re accountable for the things we believe, the things we teach to our kids and our grandchildren and we teach to other people.
And if that weren’t enough you know what it says there in verse 6, “Blessed and holy is the one who has part in the first resurrection.” The word “resurrection” there is anastasis, and do a word study on anastasis and here’s what you’re going to discover. That word always means a physical literal resurrection. In fact, that word, anastasis, is used to describe the resurrection of Jesus, which was literal. It never means regeneration, it never means being born again.
And so what we are reading about here, what we are discovering is this is the last and final phase of the resurrection unto righteousness for the believer. This church has already been resurrected at least seven years earlier via the rapture; Jesus was resurrected before that. And you say wait a minute, pastor, it says first resurrection here; how could it be the first resurrection if the rapture already happened and Jesus already rose? Be careful with that word “first.” First doesn’t always mean the first ever; if this word means first ever then Jesus never rose which would decimate Christianity. Sometimes the word first means first ever but sometimes the word first is used to describe a sequence, first in relationship to the second.
It’s like when my wife calls me on my cell and she says “first I need to go to the store, last I need you to pick up the laundry,” and I don’t say to myself well praise the Lord, this is the last time ever in our marriage I’ll ever have to pick up the laundry. Now she might think that based on some of my behavior but that’s another story. And I’m not saying to myself this is the first time ever I’ve gone to the store. She’s using first and last not first ever and last ever but she’s describing a sequence. When it says first resurrection and two resurrection are already transpired, Christ’s resurrection and the rapture of the church, it’s not saying first ever; it’s saying first relative to what’s coming after the thousand years when the unsaved of all ages will be resurrected. And so the resurrection of the just will be followed by the rule of the just and what a rule it’s going to be folks! You say I’d like to learn more about it. When you come back next week we’ll talk about it.
You know, I’m always looking for [can’t understand word] into the gospel at the end and I can’t think of a better one than this: What resurrection do you want to be involved in? If a person who is in Christ they’re invited into that first resurrection, when you lived in history depending on which phase it is. But if a person is not in Christ they’re going to be resurrected all right, but this will not be a resurrection unto life, this will be a resurrection unto damnation in the horrific Great White Throne Judgment that’s described in Revelation 20:11-15.
[Revelation 20:11-15, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and]books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”]
It’s very simple… which resurrection do you want to be involved in? If a person has trusted in what Jesus has done for them two thousand years ago then He becomes their head. He becomes the first fruits; His resurrection unto life guarantees yours, in this case yours being at the point of the rapture. But if a person has never trusted in Christ then they’re still stuck under their remaining federal head, the first Adam, and the only resurrection they have to look forward to is the resurrection of the judgments. And you switch your position from resurrection B to resurrection A through simply trusting in what Jesus did for you. That’s how easy it is.
It’s what we call the gospel, good news, because Jesus did all of the work necessary to keep us out of the resurrection unto damnation. By doing what? Through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension He bridged the gap between God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness, a bridge we could never build on our own. And He doesn’t say to us now save yourself, He says I’ve done the work, and you trust in what I’ve done for you, and if you trust in what I’ve done for you, not what you do for yourself, what I’ve done for you then your future looks very bright. If a person has not done that then what is left? A fiery indignation in the Lake of Fire through participation in that last and final resurrection.
So becoming a Christian is not a twelve step process, it’s a one step process where the Spirit convicts us of our need to trust in the salvation of Jesus and we respond in our heart of hearts as we respond to that convicting ministry by trusting in Jesus. That’s what believe means. It’s not a matter of joining a church, walking an aisle, doing good works, following New Year’s resolutions, giving money. It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where the Lord places you under that conviction. And you don’t just shrug it off, you respond to it by trusting in Christ and that’s what ties you into a blessed future. If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.
Shall we pray. Lord, we’re just thankful for these ancient truths that at the same time are clear road maps of the future. Help us to be aware of these things, help us to walk these things out this week, help us to live these things, help us to share these things with others. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen!