Category Archives: REVELATION Part 8

The coming of Christ to earth, His 1000-year reign, and the eternal state.

BOOK OF REVELATION Part 8

FULL AND FINAL REVELATION OF CHRIST IN PERSON TO THE WORLD AND SUBSEQUENT EVENTS

Chapters 19 to22.

Christ rides forth as the Warrior-King

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 20

20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

20:5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

20:8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The time is now right for the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven. What a surprise is in store for those who thought they had rid themselves of Him some 2000 years before. But in His own times He will show “who is the blessed and only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting”, 1 Timothy 6:15,16. The Lord Jesus rides forth from heaven and utterly defeats His enemies, who will be consigned to the Lake of Fire as its first occupants. The six verses describing this coming constitute just 1.5% of the whole book, showing that the book has mainly to do with the ways in which He reveals Himself before He actually comes.

Prior to this, however, the marriage supper of the Lamb will take place, subsequent to the marriage of the Lamb to His bride, the church.

In chapter 20:1-9 there is a six-fold mention of the 1000-year reign of Christ, (three of those things being in reference to Satan, as if to emphasise his complete failure to gain universal supremacy), and we are told the following things about it:

First and second, Satan is bound and cast into the abyss for the duration of that age, then is released, and leads the final rebellion against God at the end of the reign of Christ and is decisively defeated, and is cast into the Lake of Fire, verses 2,3,7.

Third, those who suffer during the Great Tribulation are said to reign with Christ for a thousand years, verse 4.

Fourth, the unsaved dead remain in the grave for the whole of the period, and then are raised to stand before the Great White throne of God to be judged for their sins and sent to the Lake of Fire to be punished for ever and ever, verse 5.

Fifth, all who have part in the first resurrection, meaning all believers of every age, including the present one, shall live and reign with Christ. The circumstances and situation of that reigning depends on the individuals concerned. Church saints have heavenly citizenship, whereas Old Testament saints were waiting for the earthly kingdom of the Messiah. Each will reign where it is appropriate, but all shall reign with Christ, that is certain.

Sixth, we are told that after the 1000 years are finished, Satan will be let loose for a season, verses 7-9. He will deceive the nations consisting of people that have been born during the reign of Christ, and they shall rebel against God and as a consequence shall be immediately judged by Him. What a sad commentary on the human heart, that even after the reign of Christ has shown the benefits of submitting to His rule, men still rebel!

From these details we see how impossible it is for the 1000 years referred to in this chapter to be the present age. This is what amillenialists teach, as they try to avoid the plain statements of this chapter. We could as ourselves some questions about this present age, and answer them from Revelation chapter 20.

1. Is Satan bound at this present time, or does he still go about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, as 1 Peter 5:8 says?

2. Has the tribulation period taken place, and saints martyred during it, and have they been raised to reign with Christ?

3. Has the first resurrection taken place?

4. Are saints who have died living and reigning with Christ?

The answer to all these questions is in the negative. The plain sense of Scripture is that the Lord Jesus will reign literally on the earth for 1000 literal years. It is true that the prophets most likely did not know the duration of Messiah’s kingdom, but they did speak of it in literal terms. We have no authority to “spiritualise” the prophecies, for this the apostles never did. Have we more authority than they? Even the scribes, when asked by Herod about the coming of the Messiah, Mathew 2:1-6, answered in literal terms; they did not “spiritualise” the prophecies, but looked for them to be fulfilled in the same sense in which the prophets did.

In chapter 21:1-8, the new heaven and new earth are created by God. The work of Christ at Calvary has given God the moral right to dispense with the old and sinful creation, and bring in a new heaven and earth where righteousness shall dwell. At the present time grace reigns, Romans 5:21; during the millenium, righteousness shall reign, for “a king shall reign in righteousness”, said Isaiah of the reign of Messiah, Isaiah 32:1. But Daniel 9:24 speaks of “everlasting righteousness”, to be brought in by Christ, and then righteousness will dwell, for it will be at rest and at home in congenial circumstances. Peter applies a practical lesson to believers in connection with all this. His words were these:

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 2 Peter 3:3-14.

Chapter 21:9-22;5 revert back to the 1000-year reign of Christ, (as is indicated by the fact that it is one of the angels that had the plagues of the end of the tribulation period that talks with John, 21:9), and describes the city of Jerusalem of that time, and the conditions that will prevail. Just as in chapter 1 John was brought back from future things to present things, so in these verses he is brought back from eternity to the reign of Christ. The same thing happens in the conclusion of the book from22:6 to the end, where John is brought back from millenial scenes to his present situation of waiting for Christ to come for the church.

Chapter22:6 to the end of the book consists of a conclusion which revolves around the coming of the Lord Jesus for His church saints and the response of believers to it. It consists largely of the words of Christ Himself, with some input from the angel and from John. The passage may be thought of as centring around the mentions of the coming of Christ, which is presented to us in principle, without going into the detail of His coming, which has been fully treated in the rest of the New Testament. These references to Christ’s coming are found in verses 7, 12, and 20, and John responds in verse 20 with the words “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 22, VERSES 6-10

22:6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to shew unto His servants the things which must shortly be done.

22:7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

22:8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.

22:9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

22:10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

SECTION 1 Verses 6-10 Christ is coming quickly- opportunities to be faithful are limited.

22:6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show unto His servants the things which must shortly be done.

The angel that talks with John, (who is one of those who had administered one of the plagues, 21:9), assures him that the sayings he has recorded are faithful and true. Reliability and accuracy mark them, and they may be safely followed. Moreover, the Lord God who sent the holy prophets in Old Testament times is the same God who has sent His angel to His servants of this era. The writings of the New Testament are therefore of equal authority to those of the Old Testament. A fitting assertion as the canon of Scripture closes. The things written in the book must shortly be done, reminding us that our time of testimony here is limited, and therefore we should make the most of the opportunities the Lord gives us. “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil”, Ephesians 5:16, or, in other words, taking the hours of the day to the marketplace to sell to the highest bidder, seeking to use them for the highest good in view of the evils prevalent in the world.

22:7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

These words of Christ Himself reinforce those of the angel in verse 6. His coming will not be a moment later that the prescribed time. In view of this, the path of blessing is clear; it is to keep, (by practising), the sayings found scattered throughout this prophetic book. Not only is the book prophetic in the sense of foretelling the future, but also in the other sense of forth-telling the mind of God by revealing His character.

22:8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things.

22:9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

Verses 8 and 9 contain a strange parenthesis. Overwhelmed by the enormity and drama of the things revealed to him, John fell at the feet of the angel to worship him. No doubt he only meant to simply defer to the greater authority of this messenger who had been sent to show him future things. This was met by an instant rebuke from the angel, for he only claimed to be a servant, like the prophets, and indeed like any believer who keeps the sayings found in the book. He is no different in that respect than they- would John feel free to worship a fellow-believer? Clearly not.

This incident has an important lesson for us. At the time John was writing, a powerful set of ideas was gaining influence, known as gnosticism. This philosophy made a great deal of angels, maintaining that it was not possible for mere man to have direct contact with God, so he must have angelic intermediaries to bridge the gap. The epistle to the Colossians was written to counteract this teaching, and the apostle especially mentions the practice of the worshipping of angels in 2:18. It was important therefore at the close of the scriptures to remind believers that all such teaching is false, and that it is God alone who may be worshipped. And it is made clear in this unforgettable way, with the apostle who had long defended the honour of God and His Son bowing down to an angel and being rebuked by him!

22:10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

Daniel had been told to seal the book containing his revelations, for the vision was for many days into the future, Daniel 8:26; 12:4. John, however, is to leave his writing unsealed, for it had immediate relevance, and God’s servants in that day, and this, needed to know what was written. We have no excuse if we are not intelligent as to God’s plan for the future, for the book is freely accessible.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 22, VERSES 11 TO 15

22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

22:14 Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

SECTION 2 Verses 11-15 Christ is coming to reward- lives should be examined.

22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

The Lord’s coming is looked at in general here, and marks the point at which destinies become settled. It is a solemn thing to have one’s condition before God announced as unalterable. For the unsaved, this is a great calamity, whereas for the believer it is a great blessing. The two charges against unbelieving men here are that they are unrighteous by nature and filthy by practice, see Psalm 14:3; Romans 3:10-12. On the other hand, believers are not only reckoned righteous by God on the basis of faith, but the outworking of that righteous standing is that they are holy in practice. Romans 6:19 reads, “as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness”.

22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

Complementary to this, (hence the “and”), we have the definite word from Christ Himself- “Behold, I come quickly”. Every generation is to expect the Lord Jesus to arrive at any moment. At the end of John’s gospel the Lord indicated that whether a person was alive when He returned was entirely within His authority. “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me”, John 21:22.

The quick-coming of Christ, a matter of joy and relief, is coupled here with a reminder that it marks the start of an assessment which the Lord will need to make before rewards are granted. Each one will receive reward in precise relation to his work when the scrutiny takes place, for it is “as his work shall be” at the judgement seat of Christ. Perhaps there is implied here the thought that if, in view of Christ’s coming, we examine our works in the light of Scripture and find them wanting, there is always time to correct and adjust. God promised Israel that He would “restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten”, Joel 2:25, and in His own way to redeem lost time. We should not allow stubbornness and pride to rob us of this blessing. It is never too late to change our ways if Scripture reveals them to be faulty.

22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

We are helped in our attempts to serve God well when we remember that if we put Christ first in everything, all will be well, for He will stand at the end as one who has been glorified. As the Alpha and Omega, He should be the beginning and ending of all that we say for God. As the beginning and the end He should be the instigator and finaliser of all we do for God. As the first and the last he should be the incentive and the goal of all we arefor God. If He is these things, the reward will be certain.

22:14 Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

We have here, not the means whereby heaven is gained, but the way the rewards will be enjoyed. The Bible begins with man barred from the tree of life because he had disobeyed God’s commandments. This was an act of God’s judgement, but also of mercy, since it would be an unbearable thing to have access to the tree of life as a sinner, and so be preserved in that state for ever. Here the access to the tree of life is a privilege granted to those who, because they love God, keep His commandments, John 14;15. Instead of being barred from the tree, they have ready access, and instead of being driven out from God’s presence, as Adam was, they have an entrance into where God is, for He is the glory of the heavenly city.

22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

We have here a warning to the unrighteous and the filthy, those who are like that because they are disobedient to the commands of God, particularly to His command that they repent. Let these be assured that they will be outside of privilege and blessing, for nothing contrary to the nature of God can be in His presence. Notice those who are singled out for mention. The dog of Bible times was a dirty, fly-ridden scavenger of the streets, and a fit metaphor for man in his sin. The Greek word for sorcerer gives us “pharmacy”, which is not a criticism of those who dispense useful medicines, but rather a reference to the use of drugs to influence and manipulate people for devilish purposes. Whoremongers are simply those who commit fornication, of whatever sort. The word is not limited to those who make a living from immoral earnings, but all who engage in immorality. Murderers are self-evidently barred from heaven, unless they genuinely repent, for “no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him”, 1 John 3:15. Clearly, those who prefer false gods to the True God of Heaven shall not be found in God’s presence. Nor those who love and make (or practice), a lie, for they clearly are deceived by the devil himself, who is a liar, and the father of it, John 8:44. He began his evil career on the basis of a lie, namely, that it was possible for a creature to become like the Most High. He continued that career by deceiving the woman into thinking that God’s word was not true, and his word was.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 22, VERSES 16 TO 21

22:16 I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

22:21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

SECTION 3 Verses 16-22 Christ is coming- believing hearts will respond to that prospect.

22:16 I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

This reminds us that far from being a book only for the seven churches mentioned in chapter 1, the whole book is for the whole of the people of God. While it is not healthy to only study prophecy, (just as it is not healthy to only eat one sort of food), nevertheless all believers need to have a grasp of the main principles of God’s plans for the future. If we confuse the different ways God deals with the earth, we shall not be able to serve God intelligently in our own times.

The title Root and Offspring of David reminds us of the way the Lord Jesus ended His public ministry. He asked a simple question, based on the words of Psalm 110:1, where David, (speaking by the Spirit of God), says, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool”. If the Messiah is the Son of David, (and the Rabbis agreed He was), then how is He also the Lord of David? This they could not answer. Nor can any answer who deny that the Lord Jesus, Son of David, is also David’s Lord, because He is God.

A root is found in the earth, (“a root out of a dry ground”, Isaiah 53:2), and yet Christ was the One through whom David received his kingship, as well as being the One who was rightfully heir to his throne as Son of David. A star is fixed in the heavens, however, so by this title He is shown to be the hope of His heavenly people. There is nothing of earth that can dim His brightness, unlike ordinary stars which can be obscured by pollution in the atmosphere, and He is coming for His heavenly people whilst it is still night in this world, before coming as the sun of righteousness to Israel, Malachi 4:2.

22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

In immediate response to this mention of Christ as the morning star, John expresses the longing of the church, the bride of Christ, that He should come. This longing is instilled in their hearts by the Spirit of God, who, so to speak, joins in the call. We have an Old Testament illustration in Rebekah and the unnamed servant making their way together across the desert, and Isaac coming to meet them, Genesis 24:58-67.

John now exhorts those who hear of the promise of Christ’s coming, to join in this expression of desire for Christ to come. Before they do that, however, they must take of the water of life freely, for without the Spirit of God springing up within, they can have no spiritual desires at all, and will not want Christ to come.

22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

This is a most solemn warning, expressing in the most severe terms God’s displeasure with any who tamper with this closing book. The reason is not difficult to see. It is a revelation of His Son, and He is jealous of His honour. Besides this, it is a serious thing to seek to diminish the severity of God’s judgement of the earth, described in the book. In 1:3 there is a blessing promised to those who keep the book, whereas here a curse is pronounced on those who seek to destroy it.

This destruction can take place in two ways. Either by adding, or by taking away. If words are added, they are man’s words, for there are no inspired persons now. John was most probably the last of the inspired writers of the New Testament. To add to this book is to deny that the Spirit has guided the writers into all truth, and since this was promised by the Lord Jesus Himself, John 16:12,13, and effected by the Spirit, to add to them is profane.

If words are taken away, then man’s judgement must be operating, deciding what is suitable and what is not. This is arrogance to the extreme, and it is no wonder that a curse is pronounced by God on those who do this. Of course, this adding and taking away does not have to be the physical exclusion of the words, or the inclusion of others. Preachers also, by what they say, may take and add also, and by so doing modify the truth of God.

Another issue is raised by this warning. If it is to have any meaning, we must be able to know what the word of God is. If we do not, we shall not know whether we are adding to it or taking away from it. This means that there must be a document that can be called “the Word of God”. It cannot be that God waited until the Revised Version was produced before He gave His people His word. And since all the versions of the scripture since the Revised Version are simply more of the same, then they all come into the same category. The truth is that the text of the Authorised Version is the only credible text, having a pedigree stretching back to the originals. Any attempt, therefore, to tamper with this, is liable to meet with God’s disapproval.

22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

The “testimony of Jesus Christ” which is mentioned in chapter 1:2 is now at an end. He has said all He needs to for His people’s guidance during His absence. He will not be absent much longer, however, for He promises to come quickly.

There is an immediate response from John. May it be! Come as Thou hast said, namely, quickly! In chapter 1 John had looked on to Christ’s coming to earth, which coming will be to the amazement of the men of earth, whether Jew or Gentile. Now he gladly anticipates His coming for the church. It is well with us if we join with him in his longing.

22:21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

John has written much about judgement, and also about glory. His closing benediction, however, is one of grace. Those who know the grace of God can consider the momentous events soon to take place on the earth with calm repose, knowing the one who is “our deliverer from the wrath to come”, 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Knowing, too, that the Great White Throne judgement holds no terror for them either, “for if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life”, Romans 5:9.